What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is characterized by a poor or insufficient tear film covering the front of the eye. This can be due to either a lack of tears or, more commonly, unhealthy tears. The tear film is the first surface that light hits when it enters the eye, so any disruption of this surface can cause blurry or distorted vision. Often times patients with dry eye disease report blurry vision that improves with blinking. Dry eye can also cause burning, tearing, redness, itching, or sensitivity to light. These symptoms can be exacerbated by contacts lens wear or allergies.
What causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eyes can be caused by underlying systemic conditions as well as external environmental factors.
Some common contributors to dry eye syndrome include:
- computer use or prolonged reading
- poor contact lens permeability
- environmental allergies
- cigarette smoke
- high caffeine intake
- autoimmune conditions
- decongestants and antihistamines
- acne medications
- certain eye drops, including redness reducers
- hormonal changes and menopause
What is the Tear Film?
The tear film of the eye is made up of three layers. The innermost mucin layer helps to anchor the tears to the ocular surface and is produced by goblet cells in the conjunctiva. The middle aqueous layer is produced by the lacrimal gland and provides the bulk of the tears. The outer lipid layer keeps the tears from evaporating and comes from the meibomian glands in the eyelids. A deficiency in any of these layers may contribute to dry eye disease.
The doctors at Diagnostic Eye Center will fully evaluate all components of your dry eye during your comprehensive exam to make the best recommendation for you. Certain treatments may be preferred depending on the type and severity of your dry eye.
Treatment options include:
- aqueous-based or lipid-based artificial tears
- ophthalmic ointments
- anti-inflammatory eye drops
- omega-3 (fish oil) supplements
- Xiidra eye drops
- Restasis eye drops
- warm compresses
- lid hygiene
- punctal plugs
- punctal cauterization
It is important to remember that eye health can be reflective of overall systemic health. Additional lifestyle modifications may be recommended, such as smoking cessation or increased water consumption. If dry eyes are getting in the way of your everyday life, stop suffering! Contact us to schedule your comprehensive evaluation with one of our Houston eye doctors.