Diagnosis and Treatment for Dry Eye
What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a condition where the person doesn’t produce enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eyes. Tears help maintain eye health and keep vision clear. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye, and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. When tear production and drainage are out of balance, dry eyes can occur.
What Causes Dry Eye?
People can develop dry eye for many different reasons.
Many people over the age of 65 experience symptoms of dry eyes as part of the aging process. Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives, and menopause. Some common medicines, such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants, can reduce tear production. People with certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or thyroid problems, are more likely to experience dry eye symptoms.
Other underlying causes of dry eye include inflammation of the eyelids and inflammation of the surfaces of the eye. Exposure to cold, smoke, and dry climates can lead to tear evaporation, which in turn leads to dry eye symptoms. Failure of the eyes to blink frequently (during long periods of computer use for example) may also play a part in that process.
What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
Dry eye affects both eyes. Symptoms may include the following:
- A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in your eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye redness
- A sensation of having something in your eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Difficulty with nighttime driving
- Watery eyes, which is the body’s response to the irritation of dry eyes
- Blurred vision or eye fatigue
How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?
At Decatur Family Eye Care, our optometrists can diagnose dry eye through an evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes, consideration of the symptoms, health history, medications, and environmental factors. With the information obtained from the dry eye evaluation, our optometrists can determine if the patient has dry eyes and can advise on treatment options.
How is Dry Eye Treated?
While dry eye can be a chronic condition, our optometrists can prescribe treatment to help patients maintain healthy eyes, minimize dryness and discomfort, and prevent vision from being affected. Primary treatments for the management and treatment of dry eye include using artificial tears, increasing tear production, and treating inflammation of the eyelids or the eye surface.
Symptoms of dry eye are uncomfortable, but we can help! Schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam today.