8 Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome You Need to Know
The essential work that tears perform to maintain our good eye health is often taken for granted. Typically, with just one blink, tears span across the eye’s surface and provide lubrication, wash away foreign matter, reduce the risk of eye infections, and keep the eye’s surface smooth and your vision clear. The inner eyelids provide drainage ducts for excess tears that channel into the nose. Dry eyes occur when tear production and drainage are not functioning properly.
Dry Eye Disease (DED), also known as Dry Eye Syndrome (DES), is a common condition affecting millions of Americans yearly. Dry Eye is a condition in which tears cannot properly lubricate and refresh the eyes. This may be due to a decrease in tear production, an increase in tear evaporation or tears produced are of poor quality. Not only does this condition cause discomfort, but insufficient tear production or low-quality tears can cause eye inflammation and may even lead to impaired vision and corneal surface damage.
Dry Eye Syndrome Symptoms are Not Always Obvious
People with dry eyes may experience irritated eyes that feel gritty. Symptoms of DED usually affect both eyes and may also include:
- Burning, scratchy, or stinging sensation in your eyes
- Sandy sensation, or feeling like there is foreign matter in your eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye redness
- Watery eyes, which is the body’s response to eye irritation
- Blurred vision or eye fatigue
- Night driving difficulty
Causes of Dry Eye Disease (DED)
Typically, glands in your eyes produce the tears that lubricate your eyes. In healthy eyes, tears comprise a three-layer “tear film”. The tear film layers include fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus. This combination keeps the surface of your eyes adequately lubricated, clear, and smooth. An imbalance occurring within these layers can cause DED. Underlying causes that disrupt the delicate balance of tear film include hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases, allergic eye disease, or inflamed eyelid glands. Compromised tear film results in low-quality tears that are unable to function adequately. For some, dry eye is caused by decreased tear production or increased evaporation.
- Decreased tear production is often caused by autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren’s, sarcoidosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis. It can also occur due to aging or as a side effect of taking medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants. Decreased tear production may also be caused by corneal nerve desensitivity, which can result from long term contact lens use or laser eye surgery.
- Increased tear evaporation can be caused by blocked meibomian glands, also known as blepharitis. Meibomian glands are small glands located on the edge of your eyelids. This is a common issue for people with rosacea or other skin disorders. In addition, increased tear evaporation can be caused by dry air, wind, or smoke.
- Vitamin A deficiency, eye allergies, and structural eyelid issues are co-moborbidities that can worsen dry eye disease.
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Treatment and Prevention of Dry Eye Disease
Treatment of dry eye depends on the severity of the disease and the cause of the symptoms. Treatments may also include warm compresses, artificial tears, ophthalmic ointments and eyelid massage. In addition, lifestyle changes may also be recommended and can include:
- Avoiding smoke, wind, and air conditioning
- Limiting screen time / taking breaks from screen exposure
- Using a humidifier to increase humidity levels of the air inside your home
- Drinking plenty of water – 8 to 10 glasses each day
- Wearing wraparound sunglasses when outdoors
- Getting plenty of sleep
Moderate cases may require prescription eye drops or even scleral contact lenses, which continuously lubricate and the eye’s surface. Other options include tear duct plugs or, rarely, surgery to correct eyelid abnormalities.
Weston Contact Lens Institute Can Provide Relief and Help You Manage Dry Eye Syndrome Symptoms
Consult with a skilled eye care professional at Weston Contact Lens Institute and schedule an eye exam if you believe you may be suffering from DED. Your doctor will determine what is causing your dry eyes and offer one of several effective treatment options that will provide relief from frustrating symptoms. Trust the eye care experts at WCLI to restore your vision and help you to see the world as clearly and comfortably as possible.
Testimonial from Joseph, Satisfied Dry Eye Patient
Dr. Kramer was great. Very thorough and insightful, as though you’re taking a short course for dry eyes. She also didn’t go for the more expensive options I had for dry eye comfort, so she’s not pushing revenue, but focus on solutions and targeting the core issues.