DRY EYE SYNDROME: SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

Dr. Jim Martin 08/06/2013

4855058_orig.pngHave you ever dealt with eyes that felt dry and gritty? Have you ever suffered from watering eyes? Both are signs that you might have Chronic Dry Eye, a condition that occurs when something happens to the protective film over the eye. This article is intended to provide you with information that will educate you on some of the symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome and to let you know there are treatments available to give you relief and comfort.

There is a three-layer protective film over the eye to keep it moist and lubricated for comfort. The inner layer is actually a film of mucus that helps to spread the upper layers evenly across the eye. The middle layer is the largest and thickest. Produced by the tear ducts, this middle layer of saline solution helps keep the eye moist and comfortable. The upper layer is a layer of fats and oils. This upper layer helps protect the saline solution below from rapid evaporation.

How Do I Know If I Have Chronic Dry Eye?

You likely know the most common symptoms of Chronic Dry Eye: dry, gritty eyes or over-watering eyes. Those symptoms may seem contradictory, over-dry or over-wet? Dry, gritty eyes are the main symptoms of the condition. However, on occasion, your eyes may trigger the tear glands to produce excess moisture to try to reduce those symptoms. That is when you get the over-watering condition.

Your symptoms may worsen in dry or windy conditions, higher temperatures, or in places with lower humidity, such as Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. The lack of moisture in the air can dry the eyes out quicker than they normally would. Prolonged use of the eyes while reading, focused on a computer screen or smart device, or watching TV may also exacerbate these symptoms.

Other symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome include redness of the eye, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and feeling like a foreign object has intruded behind the eyelids or a burning sensation.

How can Dry Eye Be Treated?

So you may have Dry Eye Syndrome. What are the possible treatments? Self-care is the first line of defense against this condition. Increasing the humidity levels in the home is a good start. Air conditioning and heating can dry the air out. Having a humidifier in the home can keep your eyes from drying out as quickly. Decreasing the movement of air through the house can also help. That means lowering the speed of fans and air handlers.

Using artificial tears and lubricating eye drops can help relieve Chronic Dry Eye, too. These over-the-counter medications can help keep the eye lubricated and non-irritated for a few hours at a time. Some drops work better for each person than others. It may take some experimentation to find the right combination of drops and frequency use for ideal comfort levels.

Taking frequent breaks from watching TV or reading can help prevent later day irritation. Blinking more often and closing the eyes for about half a minute can help a great deal as well. Taking regular breaks during the day to avoid prolonged staring at a computer screen can also minimize your symptoms.

If the issue becomes severe enough, you may need medical intervention for Dry Eye Syndrome. A doctor will evaluate the problem and work with you to find a solution. Doctors may prescribe certain medications that can help with Chronic Dry Eye. An eye insert  may be an option. It provides a consistent layer of lubrication over the eye for one or two days before disappearing. Prescription eye solutions like Restasis can help decrease inflammation in the eye while simultaneously providing lubrication. Some conditions may require the use of antibiotics. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed.

If you are dealing with persistent Dry Eye Syndrome that can’t be remedied by normal self-care treatment, contact the eye doctors atBroome Optical. We handle everything from routine eye exams to eye health diagnosis/treatment. Give us a call today.

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