Dry Eye

Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common problems treated by eye physicians. Over ten million Americans suffer from dry eyes. It is usually caused by a problem with the quality of the tear film that lubricates the eyes.

What causes dry eye?

Dry eye syndrome has many causes. These can include:

  • The normal aging process
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Certain medications
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Diseases such as Parkinson’s and Sjogren’s
  • Menopause

Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Itching, burning, redness, and irritation
  • Blurred vision that improves with blinking
  • Excessive reflex tearing
  • Worsening of symptoms with reading, watching TV, or working on a computer

Treatment

Every patient is unique when it comes to treating dry eyes. Your doctor will review your options with you and help you choose the treatment that is best for your particular situation.

Many find relief simply from using artificial tears on a regular basis. Some of these products are watery and alleviate the symptoms temporarily; others are thicker and adhere to the eye longer. Preservative-free tears are recommended because they are the most soothing and have fewer additives that could potentially irritate. Avoid products that whiten the eyes such as Visine or Murine as they don’t have adequate lubricating qualities and often make the problem worse.

Closing the opening of the tear drain in the eyelid with special inserts called punctal plugs is another option. This works like closing a sink drain. These special plugs trap the tears on the eye, keeping it moist. This may be done on a temporary basis with a dissolvable collagen plug, or permanently with a silicone plug.

There are also simple lifestyle changes that can significantly improve irritation from dry eyes. For example, drinking eight to ten glasses of water each day keeps the body hydrated and flushes impurities. Make a conscious effort to blink frequently – especially when reading or watching television. Avoid rubbing the eyes. This only worsens the irritation.

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