Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a condition that millions of Americans suffer from on a daily basis. There are many different causes of ocular dryness resulting in various presentations of the condition. Just as the causes can vary from person to person, the treatment regimen may also differ.
Signs and symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome may include:
- Gritty or sandy feeling in eyes
- Stinging or burning eyes
- Red eyes
- Watering eyes
- Intermittent blur in vision
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
Types of Dry Eye
Decreased Tear Production: This form of dry eye is known as aqueous deficiency. This results in a lack of good quality tears being produced. While this may occur with age, there are also a variety of medical conditions and medications that can lead to a decrease in tear production. Conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sarcoidosis, Lupus, Sjogren's Syndrome, and ocular allergies have been known to result in aqueous deficiency. Medications including antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, birth control, antidepressants may also play a role.
Increased Tear Evaporation: This form of dry eye is known an Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). The Meibomian glands are oil glands within your eyelids that provide the oily layer of your tears which is responsible for preventing tear evaporation. These oil glands can become blocked or atrophied if not functioning optimally. With each blink, the glands are stimulated to release oil. Blink rate often becomes decreased when doing activities that require concentration like reading, working on a computer and driving leading to increased tear evaporation. Tear evaporation may also increase in dry or windy conditions, if the eyelids do not properly align allowing for a complete blink, or in certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Treatment and Management
Possible treatment may include:
- Switching to daily disposable contact lenses
- Nutritional therapy
- Medical treatment including anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive therapy
- Eyelid hygiene
- Tear replacement drops and ointment
Dry eye syndrome is often a chronic condition and requires long-term treatment and management to keep symptoms at bay. If left untreated, chronic DES can have permanent effects on eye health and vision. Consistent treatment will help to promote your best possible vision and ocular comfort. If you are experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms or have a condition that predisposes you to ocular dryness, schedule your appointment today to learn more about DES and what form of treatments may best suit you.