What is Dry Eye Disease and How is it Treated

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Dry eye syndrome, or dry eye as it is known, results from a chronic insufficiency of moisture or lubrication on the eye surface. Dry eyes can have mild to severe consequences, including constant eye irritation and substantial inflammation. In some extreme cases, scarring may occur on the eye surface, particularly on the front. The term keratitis sicca describes cornea inflammation or dryness, while keratoconjunctivitis sicca is dryness affecting the patient’s conjunctiva and cornea. On the other hand, dysfunctional tear syndrome stresses that insufficient quality tears are as bad as insufficient quantity. All these are alternative medical terms eye care professionals use to describe dry eyes. Regardless, dry eyes can be an excellent source of discomfort if left untreated.

Once your eye doctor has confirmed that you may be having the dry eye syndrome and ascertained its severity, your doctor can now determine the type of treatment that will best work for you to allow your eyes to look healthy, feel comfortable and see properly. In some cases, the eye doctor or specialist may recommend certain prescription medications or a series of in-office procedures to enable the body to secrete sufficient tears and possibly minimize the eye irritation that you may be feeling.

Mild cases such as those caused by computer overuse can be treated using methods like artificial tears or any other eye drop that can increase eye lubrication. Using Restasis (Allergan) on a daily basis may also help lubricate your eye and reduce inflammation. In addition, the doctor may also take a holistic approach and recommend that you make minor behavioral modifications to your life, including taking frequent breaks from reading or from computer use. Elite Vision Centers in Pembroke Pines, Florida is one provider of holistic dry eye treatment.  You can request an appointment online or reach them via their Facebook page.

There are different causes of dry eye. An adequate amount of tears (tear layer) should be on the eye surface on a constant basis to maintain the eye’s state of health. A healthy eye is comfortable to have and see with.  Also, a healthy eye has clear vision. Tears are essential on the eye’s surface because they wash away small dust particles, debris accumulated over time, and microorganisms that can pose a health risk when left alone. Without tears, there is potential for an eye infection and a damaged cornea.

Typically, a tear film comprises three critical components: the watery/ aqueous, the oily/ lipid and the mucous/ mucin components, and each is secreted by its own gland and has a role to play to maintain good eye health. Any problem with one or more of these glands can lead to tear instability and even chronic dry eyes. Sometimes the lacrimal glands fail to secrete sufficient watery fluids to ensure the eyes get a steady supply of adequate moisture, thereby resulting in aqueous-deficiency dry eye. The more tears you have the better it is for your eyes.

Staring at the computer or smartphone for more extended periods, reading books frequently, and school work can cause one to blink less often. This results in tear evaporation and raises the risk of contracting dry eye. Similarly, wearing contact lens may cause dry eye discomfort and problems, as people discontinue the use of contact lens wear primarily because of dry eye issues. Risk factors and possible causes of dry eyes may include aging (for those aged over 50), menopause, smoking, frequent flying, and arid environments.

If you suspect you may be having dry eye syndrome, kindly visit an eye specialist to ascertain whether or not there is a problem with your eyes. An eye doctor will perform a series of tests and interpret the results from the eye examination. Symptoms alone cannot be used as accurate predictors of possible dry eye disease, as symptoms may vary widely from one individual to another. Also, it is only through tests that the severity of your condition can be determined for the best course of action. An optometrist/ ophthalmologist will carry out a careful eye examination to establish dry eye presence as well as severity. Note that opticians, unlike many believe, are not eye doctors but only use prescriptions or recommendations from eye specialists like optometrists/ ophthalmologists to find the most suitable eyewear for patients with eye problems.

Dry eye syndrome is a common phenomenon and requires a quick visit to your family eye doctor’s office. While some cases of dry eyes might not get completely cured, seeing an optometrist could provide greater eye comfort and even help manage them successfully. Seeing an optometrist also results in fewer symptoms and sharper vision.

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