Dry Eye: you have heard the term before, but do you really know what it is? Dry eye is a little more complicated than it sounds and the resulting consequences go beyond simple dryness. These include pain, light sensitivity, itching, redness, and even blurry vision. So you have to ask yourself, “What is Dry Eye?”
Dry eye can be caused by a number of underlying conditions, ranging from the natural aging process to side effects of prescription drugs, structural problems with the eye lids (lid margin disease, blepharitis)and side effects of certain diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and other collagen vascular diseases.
If you believe you are suffering from dry eye, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor – optometrist or ophthalmologist – as soon as possible. Your eye depends on tears, a combination of water, oils, mucus, and antibodies, to provide constant moisture and lubrication in order to maintain not only comfort, but also proper vision. When there is an imbalance in the tear system, a person can experience dry eye.
Treating Dry Eye
There are several treatments currently available for dry eye, including:
- Eye Drops: Artificial tears can help keep your eyes properly lubricatedsupplimenting your natural tears. Artificial tears are available over-the-counter.
- Punctual occlusion (Temporary and Permanent): Temporary punctual occlusion involves the temporary plugging of the ducts that drain tears out of the eye. If this proves to be successful in providing an adequate supply of tears, permanent punctual occlusion may be an option. And, as you may have guessed, permanent punctual occlusion is the permanent plugging of the tear drains (though plugs can be removed by your eye doctor).
- Medication: Medications, such as Restasis, can greatly improve the quality of life for a patient with dry eye. Topical steroids may be used temporarily to bring the tear film to a healthy and stable state.
- Surgery: The ducts that drain tears into the nose can be permanently closed to allow more tears to remain around the eye.
“Patients often ask me, ‘How can my eyes be dry? They are constantly tearing,” said board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles. “Well, the tearing is actually your body’s response to your dry eyes.”
If you have any questions about Dry Eye or if you wish to schedule an appointment with Anne Arundel Eye Center, please contact Dr. Boles and the eye care specialists here at AAEC by calling 410-224-2010.
For more eye care advice and information, please take a look at our previous blog posts.
Dry Eyes WebMD