Dry Eye Syndrome
One of the most common complaints heard by an Ophthalmologist are burning, itching, sandy, foreign body sensation, affecting one or both eyes. These complaints are usually associated with a fluctuation in the clarity of vision. These are the most common symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome, and affect a large part of our community.
Dry eye is caused by decreased tear production, or by increased evaporation of tears from the ocular surface. Tears are composed of three components- oils, mucous, and aqueous. If one of these components is missing, or produced in inadequate amounts, the tear film will not sufficiently lubricate the eye, and symptoms will develop.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Alteration in tear production can be caused by medications, (decongestants, antihistamines, diuretics, etc.), injuries, scar tissue, local eyelid inflammations, cigarette smoke, and by natural aging processes, especially in post-menopausal women. Additionally, collagen diseases such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome are associated with decreased tear production. Staring at computers, books, driving long distances, the dry heat in the home, and the low humidity during the winter also will contribute to dry eye symptoms.
Once the cause of dry eye is determined, treatment can begin. Our doctors will measure the extent of dryness with our Tear Lab Osmolarity test. Treatment can proceed with artificial tears, sold over the counter. There are many on the market, and the best types of tear substitutes are the “preservative-free” kinds, which come in single-use containers. These can be used several times per day, with beneficial results, and without any side effects. The drops to avoid are decongestants, as these can actually worsen a dry eye problem. If this is not sufficient to improve the symtoms, or improve the Tear Lab results, then we will usually prescribe a special medication, Restasis. This medicine actually reduces inflammation and can increase the tear production and improve symptoms.
If these measures do not help, sometimes we insert tear duct plugs, which is a painless, in office procedure that can substantially improve symptoms. Additional measures that are recommended include reduce alcohol consumption, elimiate smoking, use humidifiers at home, especially in the bedroom. There are even special air-tight eyeglasses that will help prevent tear evaporation.
The doctors at Lindenhurst Eye Physicians & Surgeons, P.C. are experts in treating Dry eye disease and will use all methods possible to alleviate your symptoms.