Dry eye syndrome is defined by chronic insufficient lubrication on the surface of the eye caused by inadequate tear production. It is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition of the eye, and it is one of the most common complaints eye doctors hear from patients. Symptoms of dry eyes can range from minor, occasional discomfort or irritation to frequent pain in the eyes that can be debilitating.
Our eyes require tears to wash out dust and debris, and keep our eyes moist. Healthy tears are comprised of a balance of oil, water and mucus. Individuals who suffer from dry eyes may not make enough tears to keep their eyes lubricated, or their tears may not contain the appropriate balance of oil, water and mucus.
Causes of Dry Eyes
Dry eye disease can affect anyone, though it primarily affects older adults. According to the American Optometric Association, the majority of people over age 65 will experience some symptoms of dry eyes. Women are also more likely than men to experience dry eyes due to hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause.
Other possible causes of dry eyes include:
Long-time contact lens wear
Some medications, such as antihistamines, certain blood pressure medicines, antidepressants, birth control pills and medications for Parkinson’s disease
- Environmental factors, such as temperature, humidity, pollution and windy or dry conditions
- The natural aging process, especially menopause
- Medical symptoms such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ocular rosacea, Sjogren’s syndrome and some eyelid conditions
- Insufficient blinking (such as when looking at a computer screen)
- LASIK and other refractive eye surgeries
- Environmental factors such as exposure to smoke, high wind and dry climates
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
The most common symptoms of dry eyes include irritated, stinging, scratchy, eyes and excessive tearing. Some patients describe a feeling of grit in the eyes. Red eyes and blurred vision are other symptoms of dry eyes. Many patients who suffer from dry eyes will notice fluctuations and changes in vision.
Have you experienced any or all of the symptoms listed above? You may have dry eye syndrome. Take this dry eye quiz to find out if your symptoms might be related to dry eyes.
Dry Eye Treatment Options
Although dry eyes can be a chronic condition, there are treatment options available to keep your eyes comfortable and help prevent damage to your vision. Treating dry eyes depends on the patient’s symptoms and the type of dry eye. Treatment options for minor cases of dry eyes include: artificial tears, ointments or supplements, such as the Science Based Health supplement for dry eyes, HydroEye®. Duct plugs can be used to conserve tears, keeping the natural tears in the eyes longer.
LipiFlow® is another dry eye treatment option. LipiFlow is treats not only the symptoms of dry eye, but also the root cause of the dry eye: evaporative dry eye. LipiFlow is an in office treatment that treats evaporative dry eye by relieving obstructions of the blocked eyelid glands by applying a combination of heat therapy and pressure to the gland, making way for the natural production of oils (lipids) necessary for the tear film of the eye.
If you have been suffering from persistent irritation of your eyes, blurred vision or any of the other symptoms listed above, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with Key-Whitman today.