Dry Eye

The Dry Eye Center

The Dry Eye Center at Roberts Eyecare Associates is committed to treating all disorders of the surface of the eye.  Dry eye is a multifactorial disease that is associated with an insufficient quantity and/or inadequate quality of tear film coating the front surface of the eye.  Its consequences range from subtle but frequent irritation to ocular inflammation of the anterior tissues of the eye.  Continual dryness, burning, gritty sensation, and redness in your eyes may be indications of dry eye syndrome.  Other symptoms can include light sensitivity and surprisingly, watery eyes as the body tries to compensate for this condition.

Dry eye symptoms may worsen with activities that are associated with reduced blinking, such as detailed technical work, sustained reading, frequent computer use, or driving.  Certain physical environments or weather conditions including dry/windy settings, air-conditioning, forced-air heating systems and air travel will worsen symptoms.  Dry eye symptoms often get worse with age, ocular surgery, contact lens wear and with certain medications.

 What Causes Dry Eyes?

Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye.  Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye, and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear.

Tears are composed of three layers:

o        the outer, oily lipid layer;

o        the middle, watery, lacrimal layer;

o        and the inner, mucous or mucin layer.

 

Each layer is produced by a different part of the eye, so a problem with any of one of these layers can result in dry eyes.  Dry eye syndrome has several causes.  As we age, the body produces less tears, this is especially true for women during and after menopause.  It is a side effect of many medications, the result of living in a dusty or windy location, contact lens wear or an indication of an underlying eyelid disease.

  

Environmental:

o        Living in a region of the country that has windy and dusty conditions. 

o        Use of air conditioning or forced-air heating system in your home or office.

o        Performing detailed technical work or extended use of a computer can reduce your blink rate.  The blink rate can drop by as much as 68% during computer use.

o        Pollution.

o        Avid reading.

o        Smoking.

  

Medical:

o        Systemic diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, lupus, or rosacea.

o        Side effects of certain medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics and birth control pills.

o        Incomplete closure of the eyelids

o        Seasonal allergies.

 

Treatment for Dry Eyes

Managing dry eye is a challenge, as generally there is no one therapy that is completely effective.  The condition is treatable and it can prevent progression to more serious disease.  Treatment starts with a thorough survey and medical evaluation.  All possible causes of dry eye including tear quality, production, distribution, drainage and maintenance are evaluated.

The following are potential, although not inclusive treatment options:

 

Artificial Tears:  Lubricating eye drops such as artificial tears may alleviate the dry, scratchy feeling.

  

Nutritional Supplements:  Special nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids have been found to decrease dry eye symptoms.

  

Restasis:   Eye drops like Restasis (cyclosporine in a castor oil base) help your eyes to increase tear production.

 

Water:  Dry eye problems can be worsened by mild dehydration.  This is especially true during hot, dry and windy weather.  The symptoms may be improved by simply drinking more water.

 

Sunglasses:  If the problem is environmental, you should wear sunglasses when outdoors to reduce exposure to sun, wind and dust.  Wrap around sunglasses or those with a foam or other seal keeps wind and dust from getting to your eyes.

  

Air Filter/Humidifier:  Indoors, an air cleaner can filter out dust and other particles from the air, while a humidifier adds moisture to air that's too dry because of air conditioning or heating.

  

Punctal Plugs:  Excessive drainage of the tears away from the eyes can be controlled through temporary or permanent plugs in the lacrimal (tear) ducts.  Lacrimal plugs or punctal plugs can be inserted painlessly while you are in the eye doctor's office and are normally not felt once inserted.

 

Contact Lens Wear:  If contact lens wear is the cause of your dry eyes, switching to a different lens or reducing the number of hours the contacts are worn per day may solve the problem.  Occasionally, discontinuing contact lens wear until the eye problem is resolved will be required.

  

With contact lenses, be aware that many eye drops, especially artificial tears, cannot be used while your contacts are in your eyes.  You'll need to remove them before using drops and wait before reinserting the lenses.

 

Eyelid Disease:  Treating any underlying eyelid disease, such as blepharitis is important as this may target the underlying cause of the dryness.

  

 COME SEE US

If you or one of your loved ones suffer from dry eyes, our doctors may be able to help.  You can count on our dry eye clinical staff to discuss possible treatment options to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable.  Please contact us to setup an appointment with one of our dry eye doctors.

  Roberts Eyecare Associates - A regional eye care practice serving Broome, Delaware and surrounding counties. © Copyright 2008