Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye is a condition where there are not enough tears to lubricate the eye. Tears lubricate, nourish, and wash the eye, all of which are essential for maintaining eye health and clear vision.
Without the beneficial moisture and cleansing components provided by sufficient tears, patients with untreated dry eye are at risk for developing serious complications such as infection, inflammation, pain, ulcers, and decrease of vision.
Symptoms and Signs
- Persistent dryness
- Redness, irritation, or discomfort
- Stinging, burning, or itching
- Sandy or gritty feeling as if something is in the eye
- Blurry vision
- Contact lens discomfort
- Episodes of excessive tearing
- Light sensitivity
- Stringy mucous discharge
- Excessive blinking
- Heavy eyelids or eye fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty reading, watching television, or using a computer
- Decreased tolerance for dry environments or fans
- Inability to cry, even when emotionally induced
Risks and Contributing Factors
- Age– 50 years and older
- Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, menopause, and oral contraceptives
- Medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants, and blood pressure medicine
- Medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid problems, Sjogren’s syndrome, and lupus
- Eyelid diseases
- Infrequent blinking
- Incomplete closure of the eyelids during sleep
- Exposure to chemical irritants, wind, or dry climates
- Long-term contact lens use
- Insufficient or excessive doses of vitamins
- Chemical or thermal burns of the eye area
- Surgery- refractive (LASIK) or cosmetic (eyelids)
Diagnosis and Treatment
A comprehensive eye exam can help diagnose dry eye syndrome. During the exam, a patient history along with examination of the eye and eyelids will help identify if a patient has dry eyes.
Treatment methods can vary from eye drops to outpatient surgery. It is essential to detect if an underlying condition, medication, or contact lenses are causing the dryness. If medications are the fundamental cause, it may be suggested to switch to an alternative medication. If contact lenses are causing irritation or dryness, a different contact lens (perhaps with better moisture) may be recommended. If a condition is the motivating factor, the condition will need to be treated first.
The primary objective of treating dry eye is to bring back and maintain regular tear production, along with eliminating any or all symptoms.
Common Treatment Options for Dry eye Include:
- Artificial tears – Over-the-counter drops such as: Refresh, Genteal, and Systane can help temporarly relieve the symptoms of dry eyes.
- Prescription drops – Restasis, a prescription eye drop, goes beyond over-the-counter drops by assisting your eyes to create more tears.
- Punctual plugs – Made out of collagen or silicone, punctal plugs are inserted into the punctum (tiny holes on the inner corners of the eyelids) to prevent natural tears from draining. Punctal plugs can dissolve or be permanent.
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) – This is a light treatment that has been shown to improve the tear function and reduce symptoms for many dry eye patients. This works by improving the oil layer of the tear film and results in reduced evaporation of tears.
- Lacriserts – Like punctal plugs, lacriserts are inserted into each punctum (tiny holes on the inner corner of the eyelids). Lacriserts produce a lubricant to help keep the eye moist throughout the day.
- Punctoplasty – Tiny holes, in the punctum, are opened to allow proper drainage.
Dry Eye Therapy
Dry Eye Syndrome is a common medical condition defined as chronic lack of moisture on the eye’s surface. People with dry eye syndrome either have an insufficient quantity of tears produced or the production of tears is of an inadequate quality.
Smith-Perry Eye Center offers a variety of treatment options for Chronic Dry Eye Syndrome to help reduce or completely eliminate dry eye.
If you suffer from Dry Eye, or would like more information regarding treatment options, please contact our office at (630) 789-6700.