What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye, or dry eye syndrome (DES), is a condition that affects millions of people. It is often a normal part of the aging process, and is more common in older people. Other causes include exposure to environmental irritants; injuries to the eye; and, certain health conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid deficiencies, autoimmune disorders (i.e., Sjogren’s Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus or HIV), Bell’s Palsy and Myasthenia Gravis.
Dry eye syndrome is literally the eye’s inability to lubricate and tear correctly. Strangely enough, some people who have dry eye syndrome actually tear excessively because the pH of their tears is altered so that their eyes feel dry and itchy.
The use of certain medications can also alter the eye’s ability to remain well lubricated. Some of the most common medications are:
- Blood pressure medications
- Anti-anxiety medications
Dry Eye SymptomsDry eye symptoms can vary from person to person. It is common for many of us to experience dry eye symptoms, but those with DES are likely to have a more severe degree of these symptoms, including:
- Blurry vision
- Excessive watering
- Eye fatigue
Dry Eye TreatmentYour regular eye doctor may have prescribed one or more of the following treatments for your dry eye symptoms:
- Artificial tears
- Long-lasting lubricating gels
- Temporary or permanent plugging of the tear ducts
- Change in medications that can cause dry eye
- Prescription medication for chronic, moderate to severe dry eye (e.g., Restasis)
Causes of Dry Eye
- Evaporative Dry Eye, which is caused by a condition known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), in which the glands that produce the oily outer layer of the tears are not functioning optimally, allowing tears to evaporate too quickly.
- Aqueous Deficiency, which means that the tear gland simply is not producing adequate moisture to keep the surface of the eye healthy and comfortable.