There are millions of people that go their local eye doctors and complain about having dry eyes. In fact, dry eye syndrome is the most common reason patients see an eye doctor. It can be very distracting from everyday life, hindering one’s ability to complete routine tasks such as reading, computer use, or driving with the windows open. Dry eye, also commonly called dry eye syndrome, has become a problem for many Americans. Dry eyes can be experienced due to a plethora of reasons, ranging from weather-related causes, diet, medications, dry air, allergies, contact lens intolerance or meibomian glad dysfunction. Some people even develop a more chronic form of dry eye that can be unbearable. This is typically where you will hear the term dry eye syndrome or dysfunctional tear syndrome used.
“Up to 12 million Americans suffer from a disease called dry eye syndrome.”
–American Academy of Ophthalmology
Dry eye syndrome refers to a group of disorders affecting the tear film. The tear film is comprised of the thin layer of fluid that covers the surface of the eye, which is continuously being replaced. While blinking, this film is evenly spread over the surface of the eye, keeping it moist and helping to maintain clear vision while fighting infection. The symptoms in many cases involve mild to severe levels of discomfort and may even be debilitating to vision.
In an effort to help patients who suffer from dry eyes, OCLI has created an entire division of ophthalmologists and optometrists dedicated to the management and treatment of this eye disorder. Our treatment protocol is customized for each patient depending on the particular issues, type of dry eye, and severity. If you’ve been struggling with dry eyes, you can get relief. Contact one of our offices to receive a consultation from one of our dry eye specialists. We strongly suggest only seeing a professional eye doctor trained and experienced in dry eye treatment. Throughout this website, you’ll find information about the various dry eye treatment options. Please feel free to research these options ahead of your appointment.
Since dry eye disease has so many components we have arranged a list of the topics we will cover on this page. Treatment options will be discussed on corresponding pages.
- Defining dry eye syndrome
- Types of dry eye
- Symptoms of dry eye
- Causes of dry eye
- Detection & diagnosis: When should you see a dry eye specialist?
- Dry eye screening at OCLI
- Our dry eye experts
What exactly is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome will occur when the eye does not properly produce tears or when the tears are not the correct consistency. Evaporation of tears may occur faster than with a normal, non-dry eye.
- Evaporative Dry Eye Disease – Inflammation of the meibomian glands located in the eyelids that produce protective oils can cause this type of dry eye. Evaporative dry eye is a result of deficiency in the oily lipid layer of the eyes natural tear film. This is where the oily lipids protect the water layer of the eye from evaporation.
- Aqueous tear-deficient dry eye is a disorder in which the lacrimal glands fail to produce enough of the watery component of tears to maintain a healthy eye surface.
“Today, the leading cause of dry eye is known to be Meibomian Gland Disease (MGD) for over 86% of patients who present with symptoms, such as discomfort, redness, tearing, gritty or burning sensations and blurry vision. While MGD is chronic and progressive, if caught early, it can be effectively treated to stop the progression and maintain optimal eye health.”
Dry eye symptoms
The symptoms described below may not necessarily mean that you have dry eye. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact one of the experienced providers at OCLI Vision. You can schedule a consultation with an eye doctorwho specifically handles cases of dry eye at one of OCLI’s convenient locations.
Symptoms related to dry eye syndrome include:
- Stinging or burning
- Decreased or fluctuating vision
- Eye irritation or scratchiness
- Excess tearing, especially when reading, driving, or watching television
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
What happens when I experience pain from dry eye?
Many people do not realize that dry eye can cause severe pain. For these patients the standard treatment options will not work. Many people start with drops and wonder why they are not working.
Detection and diagnosis
There are several methods to test for dry eyes including several new painless tests that OCLI has been instrumental in developing. The doctor will first determine the underlying cause by measuring the production, evaporation rate and quality of the tear film. Special drops that highlight problems that would be otherwise invisible are particularly helpful to diagnose the presence and extent of the dryness.
There are several new treatment options including holistic approaches and new medications for dry eye that are available at OCLI. Closing the opening of the tear drain in the eyelid with special inserts called punctal plugs is another option. This works like closing a sink drain with a stopper. These special plugs trap the tears on the eye, keeping it moist. This may be done on a temporary basis with a dissolvable collagen plug, or permanently with a silicone plug.
How can I help myself with dry eye disease?
There are some basic things you can do to ease the discomfort; however, if dry eye is causing you agitation, trouble, and making your days difficult, consult our experienced providers at your convenience.
“Start with over the counter solutions for temporary relief and perhaps start taking a high quality fish oil rich in Omega 3’s. You can also try artificial tears easily found in most drug stores.” — “Your environment can also be changed to become moist by using a humidifier and an air purifier.”
What causes dry eye?
Common causes of dry eye syndrome
- Aging Eyes: As people age, it is completely natural that the tears we produce have less oil in them. The aging population has specific dry eye related problems.
- Environmental factors: Environmental factors like windy climates or desert like climates cause dry eyes. The use of air conditioning can cause this as well. You may wake up in the morning after being near and air conditioner and experience dry eye symptoms.
- Meibomian gland dysfunction: Patients with this dysfunction typically present with symptoms of burning, irritation, dryness, and decreased contact lens wearing time. The diagnosis is made by inspecting the glands in the eyelid and their secretions.
- Menopause: Females entering menopause are among the most prone to dry eye.
- Work environment: Some work environments that are dusty and windy may be harmful to patients more likely to develop dry eye syndrome.
- Medications: Antihistamines and decongestants may cause dry eyes, as well as some other medications (These medications include pain relievers, antihistamines, tranquilizers, oral contraceptives, beta blockers, diuretics, and antidepressants).
- Contact lens use: Wearing contact lenses can contribute to dry eye. Please consult your contact lens provider for specific questions about your type of contacts or schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss this issue.
- Computer screen reading: Sitting in front of the computer for hours may cause you to blink less and also cause dry eyes. Many researchers are studying something called ‘computer vision syndrome’ for answers regarding how computer screen reading and activity can impact ocular health.
- Certain diseases: There are diseases linked to chronic dry eye. Has your eye doctor ever discussed these with you before? The most popular disease linked to dry eye is Sjogren’s syndrome, but other diseases that impact dry eyes are keratoconjuntivitis sicca, xerophthalmia, lupus erythematosus, Grave’s disease, diabetes, and scleroderma.
- Vitamin A deficiency: This uncommon vitamin deficiency exists with chronic failure to eat sufficient amounts of vitamin A or beta-carotene. This results in levels of blood-serum vitamin A that are below a defined range. Beta-carotene is a form of pre-vitamin A, which is readily converted to vitamin A in the body. Night blindness is the first symptom of vitamin A deficiency. Prolonged and severe vitamin A deficiency can produce total and irreversible blindness.
- Poor Diet: Not getting enough nutrients, fruits and vegetables and not enough Omega 3 fatty acids can make your eyes dry. A diet rich with inflammatory foods can also lead to dry eye syndrome and host of other issues including major skin problems.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints.
- Acne Rosacea, Meibomitis, Blepharitis: The oily part of the tear film is depleted in all three of these conditions, which overlap one another.