Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are insufficiently moisturized, leading to itching, redness and pain from dry spots on the surface of the eye. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts don't produce enough tears, or because of a chemical imbalance in the tears.
Causes of Dry Eye
People usually begin experiencing dry eye symptoms as they age, but the condition can also result from certain medications, conditions or injuries. Dry eye tends to affect women more often than men, due to the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy or menopause. Oral contraceptives can also affect the consistency of tears. Dry eye is more common in people over the age of 50.
Symptoms of Dry Eye
Patients with dry eye may experience certain symptoms from this condition, usually affecting both eyes, which may include:
- Stinging or burning sensation
- Irritation from smoke or wind
- Eyes that feel scratchy
- Eye fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Excessive tearing
- Blurry vision
Dry eye can damage the eye's tissues leaving tiny abrasions on the surface of your eyes, impairing vision. Fortunately, many treatment options are available to help relieve the symptoms of dry eyes, restoring health back to the eyes ensuring clear vision and long-term health.
Treatment of Dry Eye
Treatment for dry eye depends on the cause and severity of the condition, as well as the patient's overall health and personal preference. Non-surgical treatments are often effective, and may include the following:
- Blinking on purpose
- Increasing humidity levels at home or work
- Use artificial tears or a moisturizing ointment
- Stop smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
- Avoiding air conditioning or windy conditions outdoors
- Stop the use of allergy and cold medicines
- Adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet as food or supplements
If these methods are unsuccessful, surgical treatments may be an option. Treatments may include:
Small punctal plugs may be inserted in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage; Punctal cautery, a procedure to permanently close the drainage holes may be another option; Eyelid surgery is also a solution if an eyelid condition is causing your dry eyes.
Treating the underlying cause of dry eyes can also help relieve the symptoms of this condition.