What is dry eye?
Dry eye is a condition that results from an imbalance in the quality and/or quantity of tears that bathe the eye.
What causes dry eye?
Dry eye is often a normal consequence of aging. It may also be caused by injuries to the eye, eye surgery, high altitudes, air travel, or exposure to the sun, wind, cold, indoor heating, air conditioning, and prolonged computer use.
Certain health conditions and medications may also contribute to dry eye:
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid disease
- Certain medications can cause dry eye
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Blood pressure medications
- Oral contraceptives
- Beta blockers
How long can dry eye last?
The duration of the symptoms will depend upon the cause. If dry eye is due to normal aging, a chronic health condition or necessary medication then dry eye will last indefinitely because there is no cure for dry eye. If it is caused by an environmental condition such as air conditioning, then it will be relieved when the air conditioning is turned off.
Can dryness actually harm eyes?
If not treated, dry eye can damage eye tissue, possibly scar the cornea, and make the eye more susceptible to infections.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
Tearing, burning, itching, redness and gritty sensation are common symptoms of dry eye. There are three basic degrees of symptom severity: mild, moderate, and severe.
Why is tearing a symptom of dry eye?
If dry eye is related to the quality, rather than the quantity of tears, excessive tears may be produced in response to the irritation.
What are the symptoms of chronic dry eye? Symptoms may vary for each person. However, common symptoms include:
- A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation
- A gritty or sandy sensation in your eyes.
- Sensitivity to light
- Discomfort caused by wind, smoke, pollen and airborne elements
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses.
What makes my eyes feel dry?
Health conditions and the aging process may affect the tear-producing glands. As a result, the amount of tears and/or the makeup of the tears are affected, creating an unhealthy tear film for the eye surface. The tear film consists of three layer soil, water, and mucus and an imbalance in any of the layers can lead to dry eye symptoms.
What are the treatment options for dry eye?
- Over the counter lubricants (artificial tears) may be sufficient for mild cases
- Daily nutritional supplements such as omega-3 fish oil and flaxseed oil
- Prescription medication such as Restasis, which not only lubricates and comforts the eye but also encourages the eye to produce more tears.
- Punctal Plugs can be inserted into the lower tear ducts to stop tears from draining off the surface of the eye too quickly.
- In more extreme cases, the tear ducts might also be closed surgically.