What are the Common Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry Eye Syndrome, also referred to simply as Dry Eye, is a condition that occurs when tears cannot properly lubricate the eyes. Dry Eye can cause significant discomfort and make eyes feel gritty or itchy. The eyes may also sting or burn, and inflammation may be present. This condition typically occurs when the tears produced lack quality and evaporate too quickly. It may also occur when there is a decrease in tear production. What can compromise tear quality or cause a decline in tear production? Here are eight factors that can cause dry eye syndrome:
- Tear production declines as we age. Therefore, experiencing symptoms of dry eyes is common in people over age 65.
- Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy, menopause, or from the use of oral contraception.
- Antihistamines and decongestants purposely dry out the sinus cavity to suppress allergies and mucous production and may inadvertently cause dry eyes.
- Blood pressure medications and some antidepressants may also impair tear production.
- Medical conditions. Autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, and sarcoidosis can damage tear glands and affect the production of tears, in addition to other chronic illnesses, such as arthritis and diabetes. These conditions may also cause a decreased sensation, which is necessary for corneal surface regeneration. The loss of sensation can also harm the cornea’s health over time.
- Ocular conditions such as blepharitis is a common eyelid disease that causes tenderness, discomfort, redness, and scaly crusting over the eyelids and eyelashes. Over time, this condition can lead to lash loss, clogged glands, and infections. Clogged glands may disrupt tear production.
- Environmental conditions such as exposure to smoke, wind, and dry climates can increase tear evaporation and result in dry eye symptoms.
- Viewing a computer screen for too long and failing to blink regularly can also contribute to dry eye symptoms.
What is Tear Quality and How Does it Cause Dry Eye Syndrome?
Tears consist of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. This distinct combination allows tears to protect, hydrate, and nourish the eye’s surface. The smooth oil layer prevents the water layer from evaporating, while the mucous layer spreads the tears evenly over the ocular surface. If tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly across the surface of the eye due to a deficiency in one of these layers, dry eye symptoms may develop.
Dry Eye Treatment: Solutions to Keep Your Eyes Healthy
Effective dry eye treatments are available to treat dry eyes that work to restore a normal amount of tears to reduce dryness and associated discomfort. While dry eye syndrome can be a persistent condition, your optometrist can treat it successfully, utilizing one of several treatments to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable while protecting your vision. Options include:
- Over-the-counter preservative-free artificial tears solutions.
- Conserving tears by blocking tear ducts where tears usually drain using removable gel or silicone plugs.
- Increasing tear production using prescription eye drops or omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
- In-office treatments such as Lipiflow, TearCare and BlephEx are used to deep clean the tiny oil glands, also known as the meibomian glands, along the edges of eyelids. These glands commonly become clogged in patients with dry eyes. Lipiflow and TearCare work similarly as they use shell-shaped applicators placed over the eyelids to deliver heat and pressure. Gentle massage of the lids and meibomian glands is also applied to release the clogged oils. BlephEx is a handheld device that rotates a small medical sponge at high speed to remove bacteria, biofilm, and toxins from the meibomian glands and eyelids. In some cases, BlephEx is used in addition to and following therapy with Lipiflow or TearCare. These procedures are short, lasting anywhere between two and eight minutes. Each treatment has a great track record for success and can provide relief anywhere from six months to a year.
- Treating the affected eyelid or ocular surface inflammation using prescription drops, warm compresses, or cleansing solutions.
Addressing the Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome: Look to Weston Contact Lens Institute for Relief
If you suffer from dry eye symptoms that persist and are difficult to manage, schedule an eye exam at Weston Contact Lens Institute. When dry eye syndrome goes untreated, it can negatively impact your quality of life and put you at risk for corneal injury.
One of our skilled eyecare practitioners can determine how to best relieve your symptoms, restore your eye health, and protect your vision for years to come.
Testimonial from Ryan, Satisfied Dry Eye Patient
WCLI provides quality products and excellent service. Would recommend them to everyone who has problems with their eyesight.