Dry Eye Syndrome
Did you know your eyes produce tears around the clock – and not just when you cry? Your eyes are constantly covered in a film of these tears, which helps to ensure your vision remains clear. Every time you blink, these tears are dispersed across the surface of your eyes.
Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears to properly lubricate your eyes. Or, in some cases, the tears evaporate too quickly to lubricate the eyes. When areas of your eye become dry, you experience symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
How to Know If You Have Dry Eyes
Dry eye can affect just one or both eyes. If you have dry eye syndrome, you may notice the following signs and symptoms in your eyes:
- Discomfort or pain
- Burning or stinging
- Gritty sensation
- Stringy mucus
- Blurry or double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye fatigue
- Eyelids stuck together upon waking
Excessive tearing may also occur in those experiencing dry eye syndrome. This is because your eyes are overcompensating for the dryness with additional tears, although this tends to be temporary and of the wrong quality to keep the eyes lubricated.
If not treated, dry eyes can cause inflammation, infection, and damage to the cornea.
Prevalence & Cause of Dry Eyes
Having dry eyes is a fairly common condition – especially among adults 50 and older. Tear production tends to fall after about age 40. Women tend to be more susceptible to the condition than men, perhaps due to hormonal changes associated with menopause.
Risk factors for dry eye syndrome include:
- Insufficient blinking, as with heavy electronics usage, reading, and driving
- Medical conditions, including diabetes, autoimmune diseases, shingles, Bell’s palsy, allergies, and HIV infections
- Environmental triggers, including wind, smoke, and dry air
- Use of contact lenses
- Nutritional deficiency, especially vitamin A
- Eyelid disorders, such as entropion
- Medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure drugs, birth control pills, diuretics, sleeping pills, antidepressants, opiate-based painkillers, and more
Treating Dry Eyes
Your South Florida Vision optometrist can conduct a number of diagnostic tests to measure the volume of your tears, and to determine their quality and composition.
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your dry eyes. For example, if an infection, inflammation, or other medical condition is responsible, it will need to be treated.
Dry eye treatments tend to fall into three categories:
- Lifestyle changes – wearing glasses that protect against wind, making a conscious effort to blink more, and using a humidifier to moisten the air
- Artificial tears – prescription and over-the-counter eyedrops and specially designed contacts that create a fluid-filled layer over the cornea
- Preventing tear drainage – procedures to plug tear ducts or shrink the drainage area
If you suffer from dry eye syndrome, you have treatment options. Contact the South Florida Vision optometry location nearest you to find relief for your dry eye symptoms. You can also request your appointment now.