Dry Eyes and Help Dry Eye Syndrome

Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dry Eye Syndrome Help

Dry eye syndrome, which results from insufficient production of natural tears, is one of the most common ocular disorders treated by ophthalmologists. It affects millions of Americans each year, especially post-menopausal women. Tears play a vital role in the proper functioning of the eye. Comprised of mucus, water, and oil layers, tears deliver moisture and important nutrients to the cornea in order to maintain its health. When the tear duct does not produce enough lubricating tears, dry eye syndrome may develop. Dry eye syndrome may also develop as a result of excessively watery eyes that produce tears without the correct balance of mucus, water, and oil.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:
·         Burning or stinging
·         Itching
·         Redness
·         Sensation of a foreign body being lodged in the eye,
                     similar to the feeling of having sand in the eye
·         Blurred vision that may improve with blinking
·         Excessively watery eyes
·         Increased irritation after reading, working on a computer,
                     or watching television

Several factors may contribute to the development of chronic dry eye syndrome:
  • Environment: Sunny, dry, and windy weather may produce dry eye symptoms by increasing the evaporation of tears. High altitudes, air conditioners, and heaters may also increase evaporation.
  • Excessive tear drainage: In addition to producing dry eye symptoms, excessive tear drainage may cause nose, throat, and sinus complications.
  • Contact lenses: Wearing contact lenses increases dryness of the eyes. Contact lens wearers may experience irritation, protein deposit on the lens, pain, sensitivity to contact lens solutions, and infection.
  • Aging: Natural tear production diminishes with age.
  • Medications: Certain medications can reduce natural tear production. Such medications include decongestants, oral contraceptives, diuretics, antihistamines, and tranquilizers.
  • Health Problems: Certain health conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, autoimmune disease, asthma, and thyroid abnormalities, can cause dry eye syndrome. Women going through menopause also have an increased risk of experiencing dry eye symptoms.
While there is currently no cure for dry eye syndrome, there are many treatment options that alleviate irritating symptoms and increase tear production. These treatments include:
  • Adding tears: Artificial tears and gels
  • Conserving tears: Placing temporary plugs in the tear drain in order to slow tear drainage
  • Omega-3 supplements
  • Humidifiers; draft avoidance; avoid smoke
  • Wearing special eye wear such as goggles or wrap-around glasses
  • Prescription eye drops
People who suffer from chronic dry eye should seek treatment from a qualified medical professional. If left untreated, this condition may damage the cornea, increase the threat of an infection, and eventually lead to the inability to produce natural tears. In the most acute cases, this condition can impair vision. Fortunately, dry eye syndrome can be successfully treated. At our comprehensive ophthalmology practice, conveniently located near Baltimore and Washington D.C., we offer several different treatment options for dry eye syndrome. Our staff would be pleased to answer any questions you might have about available treatment options for dry eye.