Caused by a lack of lubrication of the eye, dry eye can have meaningful impacts on your ability to work and play. Proper lubrication is critical for good vision as well as a healthy and comfortable eye surface.
Anyone can get dry eye, though heavy computer users, post-op surgical patients, contact lens wearers, and people over age 55 are the most prone to contract it. It can come for short periods, such as when caused by certain medications, or it may last for weeks, months, or more.
Important Information About Dry Eyes
When the body is not able to make enough tears to protect the surface of the eye, cells on the front part of the cornea become sick or even die. If your tears are of poor quality and evaporate quickly, this can also cause dry eye. This leads to a variety of symptoms that affect both comfort and vision.
An arid environment, as well as prolonged reading or computer work, can often cause evaporation of the tear film. Dry eyes can also be caused by hormonal changes, allergies, auto-immune diseases, eye surgery, contact lens wear, eye infections, and drugs such as oral antihistamines, antidepressants, or hormone replacement therapy.
Other environmental factors, such as exposure to cigarette smoke or chemicals, can also stimulate dry eye symptoms.
Dry eye symptoms include:
There are many therapies available to treat dry eye by either increasing the quantity or quality of your natural tears, or by providing lubrication via artificial tears. The therapy that is right for you is dependant on the cause of your dry eye condition.
Common therapies include artificial tear preparations, lubricant ointments, and mechanisms for partial or total blockage of the drainage of the tear film (called punctal occlusion). More advanced therapies include nutritional supplements as well as both oral and topical medications, such as restasis.
Many conditions do not have treatments that provide immediate results. It is normal to take a few months to significantly improve many of the symptoms. Dry eyes may need to be treated on a daily basis. Therapeutic goals are to control or eliminate the symptoms, maintain and preserve visual acuity, and prevent complications secondary to inflammation and drying out of the ocular surface.