Dry Eye Disease
What is Dry Eye Disease?
Dry eye disease occurs when the eye is unable to produce enough tears, or when the tears produced evaporate quickly. There are 2 types of dry eye that can occur; aqueous tear-deficient and evaporative. The first is caused by the failure of the lacrimal glands to produce enough tears and the latter, may be a result of inflamed or blocked Meibomian glands, which are responsible for the top part of tears that keeps the tear film stable.
The Importance of Tears
Tears are necessary for clear vision and overall eye health. Tears are produced constantly, and they help nourish, protect, and bathe the surface of the eye. Additionally, more tears are produced as a defense mechanism when the eye is irritated or infected, or when dust particles or a foreign body lands in the eye.
What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
- Burning/stinging of the eye
- Episodes of watery or excessive tears
- Gritty/sandy feeling
- Redness and eye pain
- Stringy discharge
- Blurry vision or eye fatigue
- Contact lenses intolerance
What are the Risk Factors for Developing Dry Eye Disease?
- Age. As you get older, tear production decreases and Dry Eye becomes more common.
- Woman experience dry eye more than males. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, birth control pills or menopause reduces tear production.
- Eating a diet that is low in vitamin A or low in omega-3 fatty acids
- Wearing contact lenses, computer use or reading causing decreased blinking
- Environmental factors such as low humidity, high temperatures, pollution, poor air quality and smoking
- Certain medications such as antidepressants, diuretics, chemotherapy, anti-histamines may have dry eyes as a side effect
How is this Condition Treated?
The treatment for the disease will vary from person to person, since it can depend on the cause of the disease.
Treatment can range from increased artificial tears, taking Omega-3 supplements, taking prescription eye drops, plugging the eye’s tear ducts, or other in-office therapy etc. Your optometrist will be able to guide you through a treatment process that is best for your condition.