Posted on July 11th, 2019 in Blog, Eye Health | No Comments »

To maintain vision and comfort, the eye depends on a flow of tears to provide constant moisture and lubrication. Tears are a combination of water, for moisture; oils, for lubrication; mucus, for even spreading; and antibodies and special proteins, for resistance to infection. These components are secreted by special glands located around the eye. When there is an imbalance in this tear system, a person may experience dry eyes.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

When tears do not adequately lubricate the eye, a person may experience:
• Pain
• Light sensitivity
• A gritty sensation
• A feeling of sand in the eye
• Itching • Redness
• Blurring of vision

Young tired businessmsn is touching his eye, taking of the glasses, he is exhausted at work

Sometimes a person with dry eyes will have excess tears running down their cheeks, which may seem confusing. This happens when the eye isn’t getting enough lubrication. The eye sends a distress signal through the nervous system for more lubrication. In response, the eye is flooded with tears to try to compensate for the underlying dryness. However, these tears are mostly water and do not have the lubricating qualities or the rich composition of normal tears. They will wash debris away, but they will not coat the eye surface properly.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

In addition to an imbalance in the tear-flow system, dry eyes can be caused by situations that dry out the tear film. This can be due to dry air from air conditioning, heat or other environmental conditions.

Other conditions that may cause dry eyes are:
• The natural aging process, especially menopause.
• Side effects of certain drugs such as antihistamines and birth control pills.
• Diseases that affect the ability to make tears, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases.
• Structural problems with the eyelids that don’t allow them to close properly.

woman using eye drops for her dry eyes

How Are Dry Eyes Treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of dry eyes. For example, when the cause is a systemic condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, proper treatment of the condition will lead to more comfortable eyes and clearer vision.

Ocular treatment options include:

  • Artificial tear drops and ointments: Artificial teardrops are
    available over the counter and are the primary treatment for dry
    eyes. If you have chronic dry eye, it is important to use the drops
    even when your eyes feel fine to keep them lubricated. If your
    eyes dry out while you sleep, you can use a thicker lubricant,
    such as an ointment, at night.
    Temporary Punctal Plugs: Sometimes it is necessary to close
    the ducts that drain tears out of the eye. This may be done
    temporarily with a plug that can be removed or will dissolve over
    a few days. The plug is inserted into the tear drain of the lower
    eyelid to determine whether permanent plugs can provide an
    adequate supply of tears and the correct size for permanent
    Permanent Punctal Plugs: If temporary plugging of the tear
    drain works well, then longer-lasting plugs may be used. This will
    hold tears around the eyes to improve lubrication. The plugs can
    be removed.
    Restasis: The FDA approved the prescription eye drop Restasis
    for the treatment of chronic dry eye. It is currently the only
    prescription eye drop that helps your eyes increase their own
    tear production with continued use.
    Surgery: If needed, the ducts that drain tears into the nose can be
    permanently closed to allow more tears to remain around the eye.

Schedule an Eye Exam

If you’re unsure where to start or if the symptoms you’re experiencing are a result of dry eye, we are here to help. Schedule an appointment online today.

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