Dry Eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are not sufficiently moisturized. This happens for one of two reasons; either decreased tear production (aqueous tear deficiency) or increased tear film evaporation (evaporative dry eye).
The symptoms of dry eye can be quite bothersome and include:
- Scratching or burning sensation
- Blurred Vision
- Excessively watery eyes (this seems counter-intuitive but can be a symptom)
These symptoms are generally worse in winter, after extended computer use or reading, at the end of the day, and while outside in the wind. Dry eye can interfere with your daily activities and can even lead to other problems such as corneal ulcers, corneal scarring, and even blindness if left untreated.
Understanding Dry Eye
Tears are more complex then most people know. They are actually made up of three components: oil, water and mucus. These three components must remain perfectly balanced in order for your tears to effectively coat the eye. The water component keeps the eye from drying out, the oil component prevents the water from evaporating and the mucus helps spread the tears evenly over the eye’s surface. Dry eye can occur because your tear ducts do not produce enough tears or because the components of the tears are poorly balanced.
Dry Eye Diagnosis and Treatment
Dry eye is common but is often misdiagnosed or un-diagnosed. Diagnosis can be tricky and should be performed by a doctor with extensive experience with the disease, such as Dr. Dudee. Treatment options can range from over-the- counter eye drops to punctal plugs. Punctal plugs are tiny silicone plugs used to close the channel that lets tears drain away from the eye in order to conserve those tears to better lubricate the eye. For evaporative dry eye, Dr. Dudee might have patients use a warm compress over the eye or undergo a special procedure used to unclog the meibomian glands, which are the glands that help produce oil.