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What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye is one of the more common complaints that eye doctors hear from patients.  It occurs when the eyes do not properly produce tears, or they evaporate quickly.

What causes dry eye syndrome?

  • Medication: Some medications have the side effect or make the condition worse (e.g. nasal decongestants, antihistamines, blood pressure medication, birth control and anti-depressants)
  • Illness: Diseases of the glands in the eyelids, skin disease and other general diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, lupus
  • LASIK: This surgery temporarily disrupts normal tear production. Additionally, the surgery cuts approximately 60-70% of the superficial nerve fibers in the cornea, which affects both sensing of dryness and production of tears
  • Women’s hormonal changes: Menstruation, pregnancy, menopause and hormone replacement therapy
  • Aging: Dry eye is more common in people that are 50+. It is experienced by about 75% of those over 65

What are the symptoms of dry eye?

The most common symptoms are burning, pain and redness of the eyes.  One may also feel a sandy/ gritty feeling in the eye, stringy discharge or episodes of blurred vision.

Dry eye can make it more difficult to perform activities such as using a computer, or reading for an extended period of time.

How is dry eye treated?

Prescription: Cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory medication, is a prescription drug available to treat the eye

Artificial tears: These come as over the counter eye drops and gels and are usually work to relieve symptoms.

Ointments: These can also be found over the counter and are used overnight to help soothe and lubricate the eye

Surgery:  In some cases, punctal cautery is recommended and permanently closes one’s tear ducts (or drainage holes).  This procedure helps keep the limited volume of tears in the eye for a longer period of time

Note: Contact lens wearers should not use eye drops or ointments while treating dry eyes.  Consult with your doctor

What are the possible complications of dry eyes?

Complications are uncommon.  In some cases, inflammation of the cornea occurs.  In severe cases, small ulcers may develop on the cornea and almost never, it punctures.

If you have any questions on dry eyes or feel like you are experiencing any of the symptoms, visit Compton Eye Associates for more information.