Dry Eye Treatment

August 17, 2015

 

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is the inability of the eye to lubricate and tear correctly.

 

woman's face with splash water on blue background

 

It is often a part of the aging process. It can also be caused by exposure to environmental irritants, injuries to the eye, or certain health conditions. Dry eye syndrome is a condition that affects millions of people. Dry eye causes eye dryness, but some people who have dry eye syndrome tear excessively. Because the pH or acidity of their tears is different, the eyes still feel dry and itchy, causing them to tear continuously.

Dry eye syndrome is very common, especially in the older population, particularly women. Women often experience dry eye syndrome during and after menopause due to a decrease in hormone levels. Other hormone-altering events such as pregnancy, menstruation and using birth control can contribute to dry eye syndrome. Dry eye can be caused by other health conditions and environmental factors. People with arthritis and diabetes are more prone to having dry eye. Some environmental causes of dry eye include these:

  • Sun

  • Wind

  • Cold

  • Dry air

  • Indoor heating and air conditioning

  • High altitudes

The use of some medications can also alter the ability of the eye to remain lubricated. Some of the most common problem medications are these:

  • Antihistamines

  • Decongestants

  • Blood pressure medications

  • Antidepressants

  • Anti-anxiety medications

Several diseases can also cause dry eye syndrome, including the following:

  • Thyroid deficiencies

  • Sjorgrens syndrome

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Autoimmune disorders (i.e. lupus, HIV)

  • Bell’s palsy

  • Myasthenia gravis

The severity and symptoms of dry eye vary from person to person. Dry eye has three levels of dryness: mild, moderate, and severe. Symptoms of dry eye include the following:

  • Redness

  • Burning

  • Itching

  • Scratchiness

  • Tearing

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Mucus secretion

Dry eye is a treatable condition.

The doctor may prescribe one or more of the following treatments for dry eye syndrome:

  • Artificial teardrops

  • Long-lasting lubricating gels

  • Ointments placed in the eye

  • Temporarily or permanently plugging of the tear ducts, in addition to replacing the tears with drops or ointments

  • Hormone replacement, if due to menopause

  • Change in birth control prescription, if appropriate

  • Prescription medication (Restasis) for chronic, moderate to severe dry eye

  • IPL treatment

Dry eye syndrome is known by many names. These include:

  •  Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS)

  • keratitis sicca

  • sicca syndrome

  • xerophthalmiaSEC headerright