Dry Eye



Dry Eye

Your eyes are covered by a tear film that helps keep your vision clear and comfortable. When that layer is damaged in some way, the result is a destabilized tear film that results in dry eye syndrome. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. The most common symptom of dry eye disease is an inability to form that protective coating, which leads to blurred vision and discomfort. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.

 

Tears are important to the health of your eye. More than just water, tears are a combination of water, fatty oils, electrolytes, proteins and substances that fight bacteria. Excess tears “drain” into ducts in the inner corner of the eyelids, and those drain into the back of the nose. When dry eye does occur, it usually affects both eyes simultaneously.

Symptoms

There are several common symptoms of dry eye, including complaints of irritation, grittiness or scratchy eyes. Other symptoms include a “foreign body” sensation, excessive watering or tearing, increased irritation in windy conditions, an increased sensitivity to light, difficulty wearing contact lenses during the recommended amount of time, and/or blurred vision.If the condition is severe, impaired vision is a likely complaint.

Causes

There are several factors that can contribute to the likelihood of developing dry eye syndrome. These include:

  1. Age: As you age, your eyes naturally become more susceptible to dry eye. Most people over the age of 65 have some symptoms of dry eye.
  2. Gender: Women are more likely to have dry eye conditions, exacerbated by hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy, or the use of oral contraceptives
  3. Other medical conditions/treatments: People who wear contact lenses, or who have undergone LASIK may be more susceptible to dry eye syndrome. Medications like antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants can affect the quality of tears. Several medical conditions – including arthritis, diabetes, or thyroid disease – can cause dry eye conditions. Eye conditions like blepharitis (inflamed eyelids), inflammation of the cornea, or when your eyelids turn inward can also result in dry eye.
  4. Environmental conditions: Wind and dry climates can affect how quickly your tears evaporate

Treatment

Miami Dry Eye SyndromeEven though dry eye is usually a chronic condition, there are several treatments your doctor can prescribe. Vitamins and diets or dietary supplements high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may help lower the risk of developing dry eye syndrome.

First, your doctor will probably suggest using artificial tears, which you can buy over-the-counter. Preservative-free artificial tear solutions are preferred because they have fewer ingredients that could further irritate your eyes. Sometimes people will not have their symptoms resolved with artificial tears alone.

A second approach is to try to keep the tears you produce in your eyes longer. This is done by blocking the drainage area of the eye by inserting little “plugs” into the tear ducts. These can be removed if they are ineffective or overly bothersome.

Prescription eye drops are a third approach, and help to increase the amount of tears your eyes produce. However, some people may forget to use the drops on the recommended schedule or may not be able to get the drop into the eye successfully.

People with more severe symptoms may be helped by a special contact lens, called the Boston Scleral Lens. This lens sits over the whole front of your eye, creating a fluid-filled layer that doesn’t dry out.

Lastly, if you have an eyelid condition, you might be referred to a specialist who can surgically repair the eyelids. If, however, they are inflamed because of blepharitis, warm lid compresses or oral antibiotics may be all that’s needed.

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