Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eyes is usually caused by inadequate quantity and/or quality of the tear film which coats the surface of the eye. Counterintuitive to common reasoning, one of the most frequent symptoms of dry eye syndrome is excessive tearing (epiphora). While ample tears are being produced, the tear film lacks sufficient oils and as a result, does not stick to the surface of the eye. Other symptoms of dry eye syndrome include a foreign body sensation, mild redness to the ocular surface, intolerance to contact lenses, mild blurry vision and/or a stinging and burning sensation.
Common Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome can be caused by decreased tear production. Certain medications affect tear production, as do some medical conditions like diabetes and lupus. Age and tear gland damage can also cause dry eye syndrome.
If tear production is not compromised, increased evaporation may cause dry eye syndrome. Environmental conditions like wind or smoke can evaporate tears. Decreases in blinking, especially while reading or driving, can also have a drying effect. Your eyelids are meant to protect your eyes. If you have problems with your eyelids turning out or turning in, the result could be increased tear evaporation.
Tear composition includes oil, water and mucus. Each of these substances is secreted in your eyes. A blocked gland or other disturbing condition can change the consistency of your tears. An imbalance in this composition can contribute to dry eye syndrome.
Recognizing Dry Eye Syndrome
Everyone experiences dry eyes from time to time. You may recall the itchy or stinging feeling when your eyes became dry due to environmental conditions. If the condition persists, it can become uncomfortable. Your eyes may become red and you will find yourself rubbing your eyes a lot.
This is an acute condition that is different from dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition during which your eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate quickly, leaving your eyes feeling dry and sore. Dry eye syndrome does not spontaneously resolve when you get inside out of the wind or you turn your computer off and rest your eyes.
If you experience dry eyes continually and are frequently uncomfortable, you may have dry eye syndrome. It is a good idea to see your eye doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Dry Eye Treatment in San Jose, CA
Your ophthalmologist will help determine the cause of dry eye and can prescribe adequate treatment. For patients who do not produce a sufficient quantity of tears (aqueous tear deficiency), the frequent use of artificial tears or eye drops (without preservative), gels and/or ointments will often help lubricate the ocular surface. To keep tears on the ocular surface longer, the punctum (small drainage hole on the eyelid margin) can be occluded with a punctual plug or cautery.
More aggressive treatment options include the use of Restasis or Xiidra (prescription medications that help stimulate increased production of tears). Again, treatment for dry eyes will depend on each patient’s condition.