Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition that occurs when tears fail to provide adequate lubrication. Tears can be unstable or inadequate due to reasons such as failing to produce enough tears or producing poor-quality tears. Tear instability causes damage or inflammation of the eye surface.
A dry eye condition is uncomfortable, and certain environments or situations can exacerbate the problem. Treatment and lifestyle changes can help reduce the symptoms.
Dry eye is caused by various conditions that affect a healthy tear film. The tear film contains three layers—fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus—that help keep the eye surface healthy. Problems with any of the layers can lead to dry eye.
Reasons for tear film disruption include autoimmune diseases, hormone changes, eye allergies, and inflamed eyelid glands. Dry eye can also be due to increased tear evaporation and decreased tear production. These may be due to aging, blocked glands, certain medical conditions, and certain medications.
Dry eye disease usually affects both eyes. Symptoms of the condition include:
Scratching or a sensation of something in the eye
Stinging or burning eye sensation
Stringy mucus around or in the eyes
Eye redness or soreness
Sensitivity to light
Difficulties with night driving
Blurry vision, double vision, or eye fatigue
Difficulty wearing contact lenses
Excessive eye watering or tearing
Some people are more susceptible to dry eye disease than others. Risk factors of the condition include being over 50 years, being a woman experiencing hormonal changes, and wearing contact lenses. Eating a diet low in vitamin A can increase the risk of dry eye.
Dry eye can be a side effect of getting refractive surgery. People with dry eyes have a high likelihood of experiencing complications such as eye infections and damage to the eye surface.
There are ways to prevent or reduce the symptoms of dry eye. They include:
Using a humidifier to add moisture to indoor air
Avoiding air blowing into the eyes
Wearing protective eyewear or sunglasses while outdoors
Taking breaks when reading, using the computer, or during tasks requiring concentration
Improving your posture or positioning your computer correctly below eye level
Taking care of your eyes in dry environments
Using artificial tears regularly
Dry eye can be mild or severe, which determines the most effective treatment. Mild dry eye can be treated with OTC medications, and lifestyle or dietary changes can help relieve the symptoms. People with severe dry eye require prescription medications and other treatment options, including surgery.
Devices such as thermal pulsation systems and intense pulsed light can help. Treating underlying health conditions or changing medications can help relieve dry eye. An eye specialist can help diagnose dry eye and recommend the most effective treatment. Diagnosis involves analyzing the symptoms and conducting eye tests.
A dilated eye exam can help check the back of the eye. It can determine the volume of tears produced, the rate of evaporation, and eyelid structure. The doctor will also review the patient’s medical history and ask about current supplements and medications.
For more symptoms of dry eye disease, contact Eye Care Associates in San Bernardino at our San Bernardino, California office. Call (909) 316-2100 to schedule an appointment today.