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Dry Eye

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a condition that affects many people every day. It occurs when the eyes are not adequately tearing to maintain the required levels of moisture around your eyes.

What are the early symptoms of Dry Eye?

Redness. Itching. Sensitivity to light. Mucus secretion. Contact lens wearers with Dry Eye experience unusual discomfort.

What are some other symptoms of Dry Eye?

Stinging and burning. Scratchiness. A gritty sensation – a feeling that specks of sand or dirt are always in your eye. Some contact lens wearers may have to reduce their hours of lens wear.

Some patients with Dry Eye experience all of these symptoms; some experience only a few symptoms.

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Is it true watery eyes can be a symptom of Dry Eye?

Yes, interestingly enough. When the eye lacks adequate lubrication it becomes irritated. This irritation prompts your tear gland to quickly release a large volume of liquid that may overwhelm the tear drainage system. This excessive liquid flow out of your eye onto your cheek. This condition changes the acid/alkaline chemical balance of one’s tears which, in turn, causes the eyes to continue itching and feeling scratchy which, in turn, generates more tearing.

What causes Dry Eye?

The list is surprisingly large. Natural and artificial environments are a contributing element as are health conditions as well as one’s age and gender. The side effects of many medications taken by millions of people can also cause Dry Eye.

What are the environmental causes of Dry Eye?

Sun. Wind. Cold temperatures. Dry air. High altitude. Smoke.

Indoor elements also include smoke as well as heating and air conditioning. Prolonged computer use or any other activity that requires intense visual concentration can cause Dry Eye. The more you stare, the less you blink.

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What are the causes of Dry Eye relative to health conditions?

Eye injury is the most obvious condition as would eye surgery. Dry eye is a possible side effect of facial or eyelid surgery.

Thyroid deficiencies, rheumatoid arthritis and immune system diseases and disorders can result in Dry Eye. Some specific diseases known to cause Dry Eye include Bell’s Palsy, Myasthenia Gravis and Sjorgren’s Syndrome.

What are the causes of Dry Eye relative to prescription medications?

Diuretics, decongestants and anti-histamines are prescribed to reduce body fluids so it quickly follows that these medications could cause Dry Eye. Anti-depressants, tranquilizers, birth control and blood pressure medications can cause Dry Eye as well. Some anti-histamines and decongestants are available without a prescription. Be aware of the possible side effects of Over the Counter medications if you’re experiencing any Dry Eye symptoms.

What are the causes of Dry Eye relative to age and gender?

Dry Eye is a natural occurrence as we age. Hormonal changes cause women to experience Dry Eye more often than men. Pregnancy, menstruation and birth control chemicals contribute to this condition. Post menopausal women experience Dry Eye more than any other group.

How is Dry Eye diagnosed?

When a person has symptoms of Dry Eye, the ophthalmologist will focus on the condition of the cornea, the conjunctiva, the tear glands and the tear drainage system. If Dry Eye Syndrome is diagnosed, the ophthalmologist may test and measure your tear production to determine the severity of the Dry Eye condition.

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How is Dry Eye treated?

Inexpensive, Over the Counter eye drops are the first choice. Artificial tears are available without a prescription. Patients who awaken with a gritty sensation in their eye benefit from a bedtime application of an Over the Counter lubricating ointment instead of drops. A thin ribbon of ointment is laid in the eyelid. Every time the eyelid moves across the cornea, it brings the lubricating ointment with it.

Hormonal replacement is beneficial for menopausal women with Dry Eye. For younger women with Dry Eye, changing a birth control prescription may be effective.

Is there a prescription medication made for Dry Eye?

Restasis is an ophthalmic emulsion that is prescribed to increase tear production in patients for whom artificial tears prove inadequate. Restasis contains Cyclosporine, an immunosuppressive agent. If a patient’s tear production is suppressed due to inflammation of a tear gland, Restasis is thought to act as an immunomodulator. The exact mechanism of action is unclear. About 80% of patients who have been prescribed Restasis report favorable results.

Is there a surgical solution to Dry Eye?

Yes. Tears drain out of the eye into your nose through a small channel. Your ophthalmologist can surgically close these channels with punctual plugs or thermo-cautery making your tears lubricate your eye for longer periods of time. This procedure will not only conserve your naturally produced tears, it can also preserve the length of time artificial tears lubricate your eye.

How can I prevent Dry Eye?

Be mindful of the indoor and outdoor environmental factors: Sun, wind, cold, dry air, high altitudes, smoke, heating, air conditioning and computer screens.

Be aware that medicines can cause Dry eye: Diuretics, decongestants, anti-histamines, anti-depressants, tranquilizers, birth control and blood pressure medications.

Most importantly, don’t ignore the symptoms of Dry Eye. Tell your ophthalmologist if artificial tears and Over the Counter eye lubricants are not completely solving your Dry Eye problem.

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