Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Eye Syndrome is a very common eye condition that affects millions of Americans. Simply, dry eyes are caused by either a deficiency in the quantity or the quality of the tears or tear film. Fortunately, patients have options with today’s advanced dry eye treatments and diagnostic capabilities.
The most common symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Blurry vision that gets clearer as you blink
- Light sensitivity
- Excessive tearing
These symptoms typically increase during vision related activities such as computer use, night driving, reading or watching television. They may also increase in response to environmental conditions such as wind, low humidity, airplane travel, or being in a smoky environment.
Sunny, dry, or windy weather, heaters, air conditioners, and arid high altitudes increase the evaporation of tears from the surface of your eyes. In fact Phoenix, Arizona was recently recognized as the 8th “Dry Eye Hotspot” in the U.S.
During the normal aging process, our bodies and our eyes produce gradually less and less oil. The reduction in oil in the tear film results in quicker evaporation leading to the formation of dry spots on our eyes.
Contact Lenses are subject to dehydration or loss of their water content. As they dehydrate, they can absorb the tear film causing dry eye symptoms. In some cases, the continued drying of the contact lens surface causes it to become deposited with protein making the lenses even more uncomfortable than the dryness alone.
Women experiencing hormonal changes (menopause), those patients suffering from thyroid disease, vitamin A deficiency, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, eczema, Parkinson’s disease(or other diseases which cause decreased/insufficient blinking), acne rosacea and a number of other systemic especially autoimmune conditions may cause dry eye syndrome.
Diuretics taken for high blood pressure, antihistamines, antidepressants, acne medications, allergy meds and many others may all produce dry eye symptoms.
Certain ocular surgeries, especially lid surgery, can lead to incomplete eyelid closure and/or alterations in tear film production and thus dry eye.
For those patients with mild to moderate dry eyes, the first course of treatment is usually to use preservative free artificial tears. Depending on the nature of your tear film deficiency, Dr. Ornstein may have you use a specific type of artificial tear that has different characteristics in terms of salt content and viscosity.
Dr. Ornstein may counsel you on environmental factors that need to be modified. Eye sunglasses can help with dry eyes because they keep out wind, pollen and dust with their Airlock seal; 99 percent of wearers in a study reported a decrease in overall dry eye symptoms. Also treating underlying medical conditions may help alleviate dry eye symptoms.
If the oily layer of the tear film is deficient, he may suggest that you increase your consumption of oily fish or even take flaxseed oil as a dietary supplement. Most likely you will be asked to drink plenty of water.
For patients with mild, moderate or severe dry eyes, who may already be using artificial tears without relief, the prescription of anti-inflammatory eye drops in addition to tears can often help alleviate your symptoms.
If these approaches do not work, Dr. Ornstein will likely suggest the insertion of tiny punctal plugs that will slow down or even stop the drainage of tears from the eye. These plugs are easily and comfortably placed in the lacrimal puncta in the eyelids.