Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common causes of eye irritation and occurs when your tears don’t properly lubricate your eyes. Tears can be ineffective for different reasons. In some patients, not enough tears are formed by the tear glands, while in others, plenty of tears are secreted but are missing some components such as mucus or oils. A healthy tear has a proper balance of a complex mix of ingredients and too much or too little of any one component can lead to dry eye syndrome.
It is important to treat the symptoms of dry eye. Dry eye syndrome can not only cause decreased vision and irritation throughout your day, but can also progress to more significant symptoms or permanent damage if left untreated.
Causes of Dry Eyes
People usually begin experiencing dry eye symptoms as they age (they are more common in people older than 50), but they can also result from certain medications, medical conditions or injuries. Dry eye tends to affect women more than men because of the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and menopause. Oral contraceptives can also affect the consistency of tears. Other causes of dry eye include the following:
- Antihistamines, decongestants and blood-pressure medications
- Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome and thyroid disease
- Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind or excessive sun
- Contact lens use
- Eye injury
- Eye or eyelid surgery
- Inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis or keratitis)
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
The symptoms of dry eye typically occur in both eyes, and include the following:
- Stinging, burning or scratchiness
- Eye fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Excessive tearing
- Blurry vision
Diagnosis of Dry Eyes
It is important to know the cause of any eye irritation or decreased vision in order to rule out dangerous eye diseases and to choose the most appropriate treatment.
The doctors at Coleman Eye Center can discover the cause of your symptoms during your comprehensive eye exam.
Treatment of Dry Eye
Treatment for dry eye depends on its cause and severity, as well as any other contributing factors which may vary from patient to patient. Common treatments include:
- Deliberately blinking
- Increasing humidity levels at home or work
- Using artificial tears or a lubricating ointment
- Avoiding environmental irritants
- Eliminating medications that may be responsible
- Adding Omega-3 fatty acids to the diet or taking them as supplements
- Punctal Plugs, which are tiny devices that are placed in the tear duct during a visit with your eye doctor
Some cases of dry eye may require more aggressive treatment. Our doctors can recommend the appropriate treatment strategy to best treat dry eye syndrome.