Dry Eye Syndrome
A healthy tear film is necessary in order to keep the surface of your eyes smooth, moist, and clear. Dry eye syndrome occurs when your tear glands either do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the right quality of tear film, resulting in tear evaporation and uncomfortable symptoms – including scratchy, sore, and irritated eyes.
Dry eye syndrome does not necessarily mean your eyes feel “dry.” In fact, many people with dry eye syndrome have chronically watery eyes. Dry Eye Syndrome is essentially a catch-all phrase that means something is wrong with your tear film.
What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Your tear film consists of three main layers: an oily outer layer that reduces tear evaporation, a water middle layer that cleans the eye, and a sticky inner mucous layer that helps the tear film adhere to the surface of your eye. Each of these layers has a different source; if one of them is disrupted, it can cause problems with the rest.
For example, if the oily outer layer of your tear film is underproduced, your tears can evaporate too quickly, causing your eyes to feel dry, gritty, and achy. Sometimes, your body responds to this problem by overstimulating tear production, resulting in excessively watery eyes.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome
Some of the most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome are:
- Scratchy, gritty eyes
- Aching or soreness in the eyes
- A burning sensation in the eyes
- Feeling like something is in your eye (foreign body sensation)
- Light sensitivity
- Eye fatigue
- Contact lens discomfort
- Heightened irritation from smoke, allergens, etc
- Blurry vision, especially in the morning and/or late in the day
Dry eye syndrome can be caused by a wide range of factors, including age, dry climate, pollution, allergies, certain medications, and auto-immune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjögrens Syndrome).
Dry Eye Treatment
Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common problems we treat at Family Eye Care. Artificial tears (eye drops) and other lubricants are often the first course of action to provide relief. If your dry eyes are more severe, Dr. Bishop or Dr. Young may discuss using tear duct plugs (also called “punctal plugs”) to help reduce drainage and prevent your tears from evaporating too quickly.
Punctal plugs are safe and painless, and come in two basic types:
- Dissolvable – Made of materials like collagen that your body can absorb.
- Semi-permanent – Made of a more long-lasting material, like silicone.
After carefully examining your eyes to determine the cause and type of your dry eye syndrome, the doctors will recommend the best treatment for your needs.
If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome, please call (940) 937-2015 to schedule an appointment.