Dry Eye Syndrome

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Tears matter. They act as a lubricant, cleanser, and antibacterial defense for your eyes. Secreted by glands located around the eyes, tears are made up of water (providing moisture), oil (providing lubrication), mucus (providing evening spreading), and special proteins and antibodies (providing resistance against infection). Combined together, the components of a tear keep away and wash out dust, debris, and foreign objects. Additionally, tears neutralize any microorganisms that attempt to take residence on the eye's surface. 

Due to their many purposes, tears play an essential role in the health of your eyes. So when tear production goes astray, it can create many problems. If you are experiencing a tear deficiency or an overflow of tears that causes dry eyes then you likely suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome—a condition that results in various kinds of eye discomfort and puts your eyes at risk for injury and infection.

What are the Causes of Dry Eye?

Dry Eye Syndrome can result from several issues. The first is an imbalance in your body’s natural tear-flow system. For example: if your eyes are producing too few tears, or if they are producing an excessive amount that overflow and do not retain moisture in the eyes. The condition can also be the resultsof external or environmental conditions that dry out your tear film. For example:

  • Dry weather
  • Air conditioning
  • Sun exposure
  • Smoke
  • Heat

Other causes of Dry Eye Syndrome may include: aging and hormonal changes, some diseases (such as collagen vascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis), and certain drugs like antihistamines and birth control pills. Furthermore, structural problems that keep eyelids from closing properly can affect your tear production as well.

What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?

The health of the eye relies on the regular flow of tears. If you have Dry Eye Syndrome you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Burning or stinging
  • Scratchy eyes 
  • Decreased tolerance to contact lens 
  • Itching eyes 
  • Red eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sandy or gritty feeling
  • Tired eyes 

How is Dry Eye Treated?​​

Treatment of dry eye depends on the cause of the condition, and its severity. In many cases it can be handled successfully. In more intense cases the condition may not be curable, but the symptoms can be managed through treatments prescribed by your trusted Boca Raton eye doctor, Dr. Alan Mitchell.

Natural Treatments

If your dry eyes are the result of environmental conditions, it may be helpful to fight the environmental causes. For instance you can wear sunglasses in dusty climates or use humidifiers in dry climates. Nutritional insufficiencies can also be to blame for dry eyes, in which case taking nutritional supplements or drinking more water can help. 

Over-the-Counter Treatments

For incidental cases of dry eye (for example those that occur due to temperamental weather), over-the-counter eye lubricants can remedy the condition and eliminate your discomfort. However, when the condition is based on more internal factors (for example your body cannot produce enough tears) different measures need to be taken. 

More Intensive Treatments

One common treatment your eye doctor might recommend for severe Dry Eye Syndrome is Restasis—a prescription artificial tear formula that provides lubrication and comfort to the eye while also encouraging the eye to produce more tears. Another possible treatment is the installation of lacrimal plugs, also called punctal plugs, which are inserted into the tear ducts to stop tears from draining off the surface of the eye too quickly. In more extreme cases of Dry Eye Syndrome, your eye doctor can surgically close your tear ducts—sealing them to keep excessive tears from running over, thereby forcing the tears to stay in the eye and keep the cornea moist.

Visit Your Ophthalmologist Today

People say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Don’t let yours get dusty and grimy. If you suffer from dry eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome, ask your ophthalmologist for recommendations on the best treatment for your condition. Contact your local Boca Raton eye doctor today or request an appointment online. We’d love to help you improve the health of your eyes.

To learn more about Dry Eye Syndrome, visit the National Eye Institute.