TOPICS COURTESY PREVENTBLINDNESS.ORG
What is dry eye?
Dry eye is a disorder in which people are unable to produce enough of the natural tears that protect the eye and keep it moist. Their eyes are not able to leave a “tear film” that washes and soothes the eye every time they blink. The eye then becomes dry and irritated. The irritation and discomfort caused by dry eye can interfere with vision. In rare cases, dry eye can become serious without proper care and treatment.
Am I at risk for dry eye?
Dry eye affects millions of Americans. Almost all people who have dry eye are adults and 90% are women. It is more common in pregnant and post-menopausal women.
The exact cause for dry eye is unknown. One known cause is Sjogren’s Syndrome, a disease that involves dryness of the eyes and mouth. Dry eye may also be connected to menopause and arthritis. Dry eye could also be caused by other eye diseases, certain medications, or side effects from contact lenses or eye surgery.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
If you have dry eye, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
–feeling a burning or stinging in your eyes,
–feeling like there are particles in your eyes,
–A gritty, sandy feeling in your eyes,
–redness and inflammation of your eyes,
–stringy mucus in your eyes, and
–extreme sensitivity, especially to cigarette smoke.
What treatments are available for dry eye?
There is no cure for dry eye. In order to replace the missing moisture in your eyes, you can use over-the-counter tear replacements called “artificial tears.” Artificial tears come in different brands with different ingredients. Ask your eye doctor to recommend one for you to use. There are also special ointments that can be used before you go to sleep to make sure your eyes stay moist at night.
At Eye Contact Express, Dr. Foust can also advise you in both prescription dry eye treatments like Restasis and also in a procedure called Punctal Occlusion which is a non surgical closing of your tear ducts. The tear ducts drain the tears from your eyes so closing them off can sometimes be of tremendous benefit to dry eye treatments. Tests can be done to help determine what treatments are right for you.
What if I have dry eye?
If you have dry eye, there are a few things that you can do to help alleviate your symptoms. You can use a humidifier to help keep natural moisture in the air so your eyes will not dry out as quickly. You should make sure that your avoid hair dryers, harsh winds, overly warm rooms, and cigarette smoke whenever possible.