WHAT IS DRY EYE?
Dry eye, or dry eye syndrome (DES), is a condition that affects millions of people. It is often a normal part of the aging process. Other causes include exposure to environmental irritants, injuries to the eye, or certain general health conditions. For example, people with arthritis and diabetes are more prone to having a dry eye. Some other specific causes of dry eye include:
- Dry air
- Indoor heating and air conditioning
- High altitudes
Dry eye syndrome is literally the eye’s inability to lubricate and tear correctly. Oddly enough, some people who have dry eye syndrome actually tear excessively. Unfortunately, the pH or acidity of their tears is altered so that the eye still feel dry and itchy, causing them to tear continuously.
Dry eye syndrome is very common, especially in the older population, particularly women. Women often experience dry eye syndrome during and after menopause due to a decrease in hormone levels. Other hormone-altering events such as pregnancy, menstruation and the use of birth control can contribute to dry eye syndrome.
The use of certain medications can also alter the eye’s ability to remain well lubricated. Some of the most common medications are:
Blood pressure medications
Certain types of diseases can also cause significant dry eye syndrome, including:
- Thyroid deficiencies
- Sjorgrens syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Autoimmune disorders (i.e. lupus, HIV)
- Bell’s palsy
- Myasthenia gravis
DRY EYE SYMPTOMS
The severity and symptoms of dry eye vary from person to person. There are three distinct degrees of dryness: mild, moderate, and severe. Symptoms of dry eye include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Mucus secretion
DRY EYE TREATMENT
The doctor may prescribe one or more of the following treatments for dry eye syndrome:
- Artificial teardrops
- Long-lasting lubricating gels
- Ointments placed in the eye
- Temporarily or permanently plugging of the tear ducts, in addition to replacing the tears with drops or ointments
- Hormone replacement, if due to menopause
- LipiFlow® treatment for blocked oil glands
- Change in birth control prescription, if appropriate
- Prescription medication (Restasis) for chronic, moderate to severe dry eye
- Ask about Prokera – our newest treatment option!
OTHER NAMES FOR DRY EYE
Dry eye syndrome is known by many names including, Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), also called keratitis sicca, sicca syndrome, xerophthalmia, dry eye syndrome (DES), or simply dry eye.