To learn more, keep reading and take our "Dry Eye Quiz". The results will be reviewed by the doctors and, if indicated, a consultation can be scheduled to determine if you could benefit from the currently available dry eye treatments.
Your eyes are lubricated by two different types of tears that are produced by glands in your upper and lower lids. The main type of tear is referred to as a constant tear. Constant tears are composed of water, oil and mucin layers and are continuously produced to provide lubrication and to fight infections of the eye. The other type of tear is called a reflex tear; it is a watery tear that is produced when the eye is irritated (wind, bright lights, etc.) or when you cry. The reflex tears simply rinse the surface of the eye and do not provide significant lubrication.
Dry Eye Syndrome is a disorder of the tear film due to an imbalance of one of the three components of the tear film (water, oil and mucous) or to excessive evaporation of the tear film which leads to damage to the surface of the eye and an overall uncomfortable feeling eye.
Five common causes of Dry Eye Syndrome:
- Contact Lenses Contacts lenses can dramatically increase tear evaporation causing irritation and discomfort to the eye and leading to increased calcium and protein deposits and oily film build up on your lenses. Research has shown that dry eye is the leading cause of contact lens discomfort and "drop out".
- Age Tear production decreases with age by as much as 60%. This decrease in the constant tears can cause the eye to feel irritated which often leads to an increase in reflex tears. (eyes that constantly water!)
- Environment Arid climates, high altitudes and windy conditions increase tear evaporation. The use of ceiling fans, heaters, air conditioners, and computer fans all contribute to dry eyes.
- Medications Many medications, both prescription and over the counter decrease the bodys ability to produce constant tears. Examples include decongestants, antihistamines, heart disease and high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and Beta-Blockers.
- Hormone changes In many women, as the bodys estrogen level decreases throughout life and into menopause, the bodys lubricating system changes. Most women suffer from dry mouth and dry eyes at some point in their life.
Do you suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome?
Can Dry Eye Syndrome be treated?
First of all, there is no cure for Dry Eye Syndrome. However, it can be treated and managed very effectively. Artificial tears and lubricating ointments can temporarily supplement the tear film and soothe the symptoms of dry eye. These tear supplements must be used consistently and liberally on a daily basis to be effective.
A long term solution called punctal occlusion provides more efficient relief of dry eye symptoms and may eliminate the need for tear supplements all together. Punctal occlusion is a simple in-office painless procedure that involves placing a tiny piece of silicone in the puncta (the small drainage holes located in your lower lid).
The silicone plugs sit in the puncta blocking the drainage of tears allowing the natural infection-fighting tears to bathe and soothe the eye. You cant see or feel the plugs. These plugs can be removed by the doctor at any time.
To find out if punctal occlusion therapy can help you, schedule an appointment with one of the doctors. An in-depth analysis of your tear film and ocular surface will be made and temporary dissolvable collagen plugs will be inserted to determine if silicone plugs will be beneficial. Most medical insurance companies recognize Dry Eye Syndrome as a medical problem and will provide benefits for punctal occlusion.