Dry eye disease

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What is dry eye?

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Everything you need to know about dry eye

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT DRY EYE AND WHAT YOU ARE DEALING WITH

Dry eye disease is a chronic condition that results from insufficient production of tears or excessive evaporation of the tear film that covers the eye surface, including the cornea.

Dry eye is very common and affects millions of people worldwide and is one of the most common reasons why patients visit the eye clinic. Dry eye is usually associated with dryness, scratchiness, or burning of the eyes.

Some people experience a foreign body sensation or feeling that something is in the eye.

The condition can also produce watery eyes because dryness can stimulate access tearing.

In its early stages, dry eye causes mild discomfort, but it may become very uncomfortable as the condition progresses.

  • A foreign body sensation in the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild discomfort that may become more uncomfortable as the condition progressing
  • Blurriness
  • Redness
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Tired eyes with computer screen use
  • Difficulty in opening the eyelids in the mornings
  • Mucous stickiness

Dry eye can arise from various external influences such as your environment or from changes in the body nervous, hormonal, and immune systems.

Over time, inflammatory changes can interfere with the production of normal tears. When this occurs, the eye produces fewer, less effective tears. This results in a tear film that evaporates more quickly and thus provides less moisture and protection for the eye surface.

When tear film protection diminishes, the eyes may experience painful symptoms and damage to the eye surface may occur.

Risk factors include:

  • Age – Dry eye is more common among people over age 40 and especially among women around the age of menopause
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Lifestyle
  • People with systemic inflammatory conditions that require medications that can worsen dry eye
  • People who take treatment for systemic inflammatory conditions, depression, high blood pressure, allergies, hormone replacement therapy and diuretics
  • People suffering from blepharitis and meibomian who are prone to blocked oil glands in the eye

Environmental factors

While they are not the root cause of the condition, environmental factors including air pollution, dry weather, and persistent wind can worsen the symptoms of dry eye. Heating and air conditioning can create similar environmental conditions indoors.

Everyday activities such as driving, reading, focusing on a computer screen or watching television can also worsen dry eyes symptoms.

To determine whether you have dry eyes, I will take a thorough history, assess your vision and examine your eyes.

I will need to know:

  • Your symptoms and onset
  • General health 
  • previous eye infections or conditions
  • If you wear contact lenses
  • If you have had laser eye surgery
  • Your lifestyle and occupation
  • Medications you take
  • Allergies

I will then perform a thorough eye examination to assess:

  • Your eyes gland function
  • Tear evaporation and flow rate
  • The skin around the eyes
  • The eyelid position
  • Blink rate
  • The eyelid margins 
  • Under the surface of the eyelids
  • The cornea  

To treat your dry eyes, I can recommend many traditional dry eye treatments.

Hot compresses and lid massage can help to unblock oil glands and help maintain your lid hygiene, thus reduce your risk of getting an eye infection.

I may also prescribe artificial tears for use throughout the day and lubricants for night use.

You may need antibiotic drops in the eyes to treat eye infection.

If traditional methods are insufficient in alleviating your dry eye symptoms; I can provide systemic treatment or minor intervention.

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