Dry eye treatment

Dry eye syndrome is the term now used to describe having dry eyes but it is not a specific disease. In fact, dry eye syndrome should be described as a symptom, not an actual condition, as dry eyes are caused by many different things. This is the number one complaint made to eye doctors and while sometimes the condition is caused by something actually wrong with the eye, much of the time it is caused by other factors.

The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can include the obvious ones such as the eye feeling dry, irritated and even gritty like sand is in your eye. However, other symptoms often are attributed to something else but may still be part of dry eye syndrome. Your eyes burning or blurring when reading could be a symptom. Believe it or not, even your eyes watering excessively could be a symptom, as counter-intuitive as that may sound.

Poor tear quality could be the culprit for your dry eye syndrome. The tear film consists of three layers – oil, water and mucus. The outer layer is the oil layer and contains substances called lipids. These lipids are responsible for both smoothing the surface of the eye and slowing the evaporation of the water layer. The water layer is next and is produced by the tear glands and is responsible for cleaning the eyes of irritants like dust and allergen particles. The innermost layer is the mucus layer which is what helps the tears to be evenly distributed over the eyeball. Any imbalance or deficiency in any of the layers can result in dry eye syndrome.

Decreased tear production is another way that dry eye syndrome is created and this is quite common, especially as we age. Just as other things decrease as we age, so does tear production. Damage to the tear ducts or glands can also cause a slowing of tear production.

Some common causes of dry eye syndrome includes allergies, contact lenses, smoking, age and environmental factors like heat or air conditioning. Less known causes of dry eye syndrome include things like medications and hormonal changes, such as menopause for women. Even some serious illnesses can cause dry eye syndrome, particularly systemic conditions like diabetes, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Dry Eye Treatment For Specific Causes

Allergies – Simply treating the allergies may not relieve dry eye syndrome and can even increase the irritation because antihistamines are known to cause dry eyes in many people. Avoidance of the allergens would be the first thing to focus on whenever possible. Using a good quality air purifier may help by removing allergens, dust and other particles that irritate the eyes.

Contact Lenses – Unfortunately, use of contact lenses for any length of time does tend to have an irritating and drying effect on the eyes. Most of the artificial tear products are not able to be used with contacts so to get relief that way, you will need to remove your contacts. Your best bet in this case is to talk to your optometrist about the best solution.

Heating or Air Conditioning – Anything we use to change the temperature in our house also tends to dry out the air. Dryer air can lead to dry eyes so the best thing to do in this situation is to run a humidifier, which will return moisture to the air. Not only will this help with your dry eye syndrome, it can also make your home feel more comfortable.

If simple changes are not providing effective dry eye treatment, it’s time to speak to your eye care professional to determine the cause of the problem.

Last updated on Apr 6th, 2010 and filed under Vision Care. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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