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Dry eye syndrome: Symptoms, causes and treatments – by Dr. Michael Servi
- Posted on: Aug 23 2016
Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication on the surface of the eye. The consequence of dry eye syndrome ranges from slight persistent irritation to the severe inflammation of the front of the eye.
Red, irritated eyes accompanied by constant dryness, the feeling of debris in your eyes and a burning feeling, are the most common symptoms of dry eyes. These symptoms are often sufficient enough for an eye doctor to diagnose dry eye syndrome.
Another key component in dry eye is fluctuating vision. Without a healthy layer of tears on the ocular surface, light does not focus properly. In addition, dry eye syndrome may actually cause watery eyes. Because a dry eye may feel like sandy or gritty, the brain reacts by trying to “wash out” the debris. However, that sensation is really due to an irritated, dry surface.
Eye doctors have the ability to measure the amount of tears in your eyes, and can determine the degree the dryness is damaging your ocular surface. As necessary, your eye care professional will prescribe medications and perform procedures that help alleviate these symptoms.
Tears are essential for eye health. They bathe the eyes by washing out debris and other contaminants while keeping the eyes moist. They even guard against eye infection and aid in healing from minor injuries. Tears are complex fluids which contain enzymes and several essential components that prevent their evaporation. In dry eye syndrome, glands near the eyes don’t make enough tears or function improperly, which causes the tears to evaporate. As these tears evaporate many inflammatory factors get concentrated on the ocular surface and cause a burning, gritty sensation.
Factors that contribute to dry eyes include age, gender, certain medications, insufficient blinking (especially while staring at a computer screen), or simply your location – dusty, dry and windy climates are more likely to promote dry eye syndrome. Other reasons why dry eye might persist are long-term contact lens wear, smoking, certain systemic diseases and insufficient closure duration of the eyes while blinking.
In a recent survey, nearly half of adult Americans report regularly having dry eye symptoms, yet the vast majority did not seek medical assistance for the condition. There are several options to treat dry eye syndrome:
- Artificial tears – over-the-counter eye drops for lubrication
- Medicated drops – prescription eye drops that increase natural tear production
- Ophthalmic inserts – a cellulose-based material placed in your eye which allows for continual lubrication
- Tear duct plugs – plugs used to obstruct tear ducts/drains
- Tear duct closure – a procedure to surgically close tear ducts
- Self-care – drinking plenty of water, proper eyewear and avoiding winding conditions
- Sterile ointments – an overnight measure to prevent eye dryness
- Fish Oil — a natural anti-inflamatory that will help the production of health tears
- Hygiene — lid scrubs help reduce the inflammatory factors that cause symptoms
If you have persistent dry eye contact Tower Clock Eye Center. Our doctors can determine the cause of your dry eye and offer advice for the proper treatment of your conditions. To make an appointment, call 920-499-3102 or you can request an consultation online.
Dr. Michael Servi, a Green Bay native, is an optometrist specializing in comprehensive eye care. He enjoys working with all age groups and loves everyday interactions with his patients.
For appointments call 920-499-3102.