What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye occurs when there is a decrease in the quantity and/or quality of natural tears. Typically, dry eye results because of a decrease in tear production or an increase in tear evaporation. Some people can have both mechanisms affected. Some symptoms of dry eye are listed below:
- Burning or stinging
- Blurred vision that improves with blinking
- Excessive tearing
- Increased discomfort after prolonged reading or computer use
What Causes Dry Eye?
There are many factors that contribute to dry eye and often times people may have several causes. At Solinsky EyeCare we will identify the factors that are contributing to your dry eye, which may include:
- Increasing age
- Certain diseases, like Sjogrens, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes and thyroid
- Hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy as well as peri and post menopause.
- Medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, oral contraceptives and some heart medications
- Blepharitis as well as rosacea of the face.
- Low humidity environments such as dry, windy conditions, hot or cold climates, indoor heating or air conditioning
- Irritants such as smoke or dust
- Infrequent or incomplete blinking as well as incomplete lid closure at night while sleeping
- Eye surgery
- Glaucoma drops
Does Contact Lens Wear Cause Dry Eye?
Contact lens wear can aggravate someone who may have marginal dry eye since the contact lens itself absorbs some of the tear film. The contact lens requires a certain amount of moisture in order to maintain good vision and comfort on the eye. In addition some contact lens wearers are infrequent or incomplete blinkers, this can increase the evaporative component of dry eye.
How Does the Doctor Test for Dry Eyes?
There are a variety of tests that the doctor may perform that help quantify tear quantity as well as tear quality and tear evaporation. Complete medical and ocular histories as well as medications taken by the patient are very important components to the diagnosis. Often, a patient has multiple factors that may be contributing to their dry eye problem.
What Are Some of the Ways to Help Relieve and Treat Dry Eye Syndrome?
The treatment is tailored to each patient based on severity of symptoms and clinical signs as well as what mechanisms are contributing to their eye problem. The treatment can vary from occasional use of artificial tears for someone who has very infrequent and mild dry eyes to prescription drops called RestasisTM that help reduce inflammation to the ocular surface. Punctal inserts may be placed in the tear duct to help conserve tears by delaying outflow. Oral medications may be prescribed to improve tear quality affected by rosacea. Some nutritional supplements such as flaxseed and alpha omega fish oil have been advocated to have some benefit in reducing inflammation and help to restore the tear film.