What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye is caused by a lack of quality tears to lubricate the eye. This can cause occasional to chronic discomfort and irritation.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome
- Redness of the sclera
- Excessive watering
- Stringy mucus
- Sandy sensation
- Eye strain
- Blurry vision
- Eye fatigue
The condition is also known as “dry eye disease” and commonly referred to as simply “dry eye”. There are three medical specific types of the condition. Keratitis sicca is when the dryness and/or inflammation affects the cornea. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is if it affects both the cornea and conjunctiva. And dysfunctional tear syndrome describes inadequate quality of tears, which are just as important as quantity.
Bacterial infections or inflammation can cause scarring to the cornea, but dry eyes almost never causes permanent vision loss.
Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome
The tears of the eye are composed of three layers. The outer layer is oily, the middle layer is watery, and the inner layer is mucus. Without proper tear composition and quantity, tears may evaporate too quickly to lubricate the surface of the eye.
Causes vary widely. The condition is more common in women who are 50 years and older. Aging and screen time have been identified as prime factors, but there are many other potential reasons people experience dry eye syndrome:
- Exposure to Windy or Dry Environment
- Eye Surgery
- Certain Medications
- Contact Lenses
- Limited Blinking
- Hormone Replacement Therapy
Risks of Dry Eye Syndrome
Nearly five million people in the US over 50 years old experience dry eye symptoms. Women who are pregnant, on hormone replacement therapy, or menopausal are more at risk, along with people with underlying conditions such as chronic allergies, thyroid disease, and immune system disorders.
Treating Dry Eye Syndrome
The symptoms of dry eye can be relieved, but curing it depends on the causes. There is a variety of treatment options depending on what your optometrist think is the best approach for your particular case of dry eye.
Artificial tears can add moisture to the eye and work well for most patients to relieve symptoms.
The most common prescription for dry eye is Restasis, an anti-inflammatory that increases the quantity of tears. There are alternative drugs that help to stimulate tear production. In severe cases corticosteroid eye drops may be temporarily needed as well.
Supplements can provide important vitamins including essential fatty acids that foster good tear production and quality of tears.
The drainage holes in the corner of the eyes can be partially plugged to slow the loss of moisture. This is a reversible procedure and relatively painless.
Drainage holes can be permanently plugged so that eyes are able to maintain adequate lubrication.
Tips for Home Care
- Increase moisture in a room with a humidifier
- Reduce time wearing contacts
- Limit time and blink often when working on a computer, watching television, looking at tablets or smartphones
- Avoid exposure to windy, dry climates
If you are experiencing eye irritation or strain, give the dry eye experts of Eatontown TX a call at (732) 460-1001 or visit us inside of LensCrafters in the Monmouth Mall.