If you pay attention to TV commercials you’ve probably been hearing about dry eyes. But what is dry eye disease, what are the symptoms, causes of dry eye how is it diagnosed and how do you treat it?
What is dry eye?
Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce enough quality tears to keep the front surface of the eye moisturized. These tears are needed to maintain the health of the eye and provide clear vision.
There are three layers of the tear film on the eye: the outer oily layer, the middle watery later, and the inner mucous layer. According to the American Optometric Association one of the most common form of dry eyes occurs when the middle watery layer is inadequate and is known as or keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of dry eye include:
- Irritation of the eye
- Gritty sensation
- Foreign body sensation (feeling of something in the eye)
- Excessive watering of the eye
- Blurry vision
What causes dry eye?
- Age – The older we get the more prone we are to suffer from dry eyes
- Gender – Females are more likely to be diagnosed with this condition
- Medications – Many types of prescription and over the counter medications can have the side effect of drying out our eyes
- Systemic medical conditions – Particularly autoimmune disorders
- Environmental conditions – Such as wind, smoke, and dry climates
- External factors – Such as LASIK or long term contact lens wear
How is dry eye diagnosed?
Dry eye can be diagnosed during your routine exam with your optometrist. Diagnosis is based on both the symptoms described by the patient and the exam of the surface of the eye. The doctor will be looking at the quality of the tear film via special dyes and magnification of the cornea. The doctor will also look at the external structures of the eye, including the eye lids.
How is it treated?
Each case of dry eyes may be treated differently. For best results follow the directions provided by your eye care provider. Examples of types of treatments include:
- Quality artificial tears such as Refresh Optive or Systane
- Warm compresses
- Lid hygiene
- Humidifying living and working
- Avoiding fans
- Punctal plugs
- Prescription eye drops such as Restasis or Xiidra
If you feel like you are suffering from dry eyes give Smart Eye Care a call and we can tailor a solution to your specific needs.