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What is Dry Eye?
In medical terms,
Dry Eye is lovingly known as "KERATOCONJUNCTIVITIS SICCA".
The tear film consists of 3 layers: A superficial lipid
(oily) layer which decreases evaporation, a middle aqueous
layer which contributes 90% of the tear film, and a deep
mucin layer which facilitates spreading of the tears over
How do you treat Dry Eye?
Treatment for KCS involves 3 essential components:
(1) Stimulation of tear production.
Tear production is best stimulated by the topical
administration of drops or ointments to the eye to the eyes. Usually 4-6 weeks (sometimes
longer) is required for tear production to improve. Usually
treatment must be continued for life to maintain tear
production, but it is possible in some cases to reduce
usage. This is especially true if KCS is detected early
before severe drying is present.
(2) Control of ocular inflammation and infection through the
topical application of an antibiotic-steroid preparation.
Occasionally antibiotics may be given orally.
(3) Tear replacement until return of normal tear secretion.
Can Watery Eyes Be a Symptom of Dry Eye?
Yes. As odd as it sounds, many Dry Eye sufferers experience
‘wet eyes’ due to the tear glands overproducing watery or
reflex tears to compensate for a lack of a balanced tear
Can reading & TV or computer viewing cause Dry Eye?
During reading and TV or computer viewing, the rate of
eyelids blinking reduces significantly. This causes the tear film to evaporate leading to
dryness of the eyes. This may happen in some people,
especially more when they are tired, or have spent long
hours watching TV or computers. Computer Users tend to blink
much less frequently (about 7 times per minute vs. a normal
rate of around 22 times/minute).
This leads to increased evaporation along with the fatigue
and eye strain associated with staring at a computer
monitor. Ideally, computer users should take short breaks
about every 20 minutes to reduce this factor. Also,
adjusting the monitor so that it is below eye level will
allow the upper lid to be positioned lower and cover more of
the eye’s surface, again to reduce evaporation.
What else can cause Dry Eye?
Climatic conditions is a very significant contributor to Dry
can often cause Dry Eye symptoms due to
inflammation of the eye lid margins, which is caused by a
bacterial infection (Staphylococci). This condition can
compromise the quality of the tear film causing tears to
evaporate more quickly. The bacteria produce waste material
that can cause a mild toxic reaction leading to chronic red,
irritated eyes. Click Blepharitis for treatment.
surgery temporarily disrupts the ocular
surface/lacrimal gland unit. This condition usually
eventually clears up.
Diseases that may be associated with Dry Eyes include
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes (especially when the blood
sugar is up), Asthma, Thyroid disease (lower lid does not
move when blinking), Lupus, and possibly Glaucoma.
- Tear volume decreases as much as 60% by age 65
from that at age 18. Dry Eye Syndrome affects 75% of people
over age 65.
for women can cause decreased tear
production brought on by pregnancy, lactation, menstruation,
and post menopause.
Dust, Pollen, and Tobacco
- When tear production
decreases, dust and pollen stay in the eye longer and are
more likely to stimulate an allergic response. In addition,
anything that makes an eye more irritated, including Dry
Eye, will make an eye more sensitive to environmental
irritants such as tobacco smoke.
- Too much coffee drinking, smoking, wearing
contact lenses, air-conditioning or heat.
What are the warning signs and how is it detected?
People with Dry Eye have sandy-gritty irritation or burning
in their eyes. Initially people may have symptoms only
after particularly long days, or when driving, or with
contact lens wear, or when exposed to extremely dry
environments such as that seen in airplane cabins.
Eventually symptoms become more consistent, and if
someone has sandy-gritty irritation or burning that gets
worse as the day goes on, and if they have had these
symptoms for more than a few days, Dry Eye should be
ruled out by an eye doctor.
We will review your history and examine your eyes to
make sure you do not have any other problems, and
determine the cause for your Dry Eyes.
Can Dry Eye syndrome come and go?
Dry Eye syndrome does not truly come and go, but in the
early stages of the condition, or with mild Dry Eye, you may
only have symptoms after long days, or with environmental
conditions that decrease your blink rate (i.e. computer use)
or under conditions that increase evaporation from your tear
film (i.e. wind, dry air, etc.).
Some patients may notice discomfort only when they wear
their contact lenses. Some people may develop symptoms only
when they are dehydrated--just like your mouth becomes dry,
your eyes can become dry in this way.
What if I don't treat Dry Eye. Can I lose sight?
If untreated, Dry Eye can progress to a more irritable,
troublesome condition called chronic conjunctivitis. It can
cause considerable trouble, and Dry Eye can lead to loss of
sight due to corneal scarring, so delaying treatment is not
Is there treatment for corneal scarring caused by Dry Eye?
When patients experience corneal scarring from Dry Eye,
sight may be restored by corneal transplants. However, the
original cause of the scarring should be addressed to
prevent a recurrence of vision loss. Research and
development of human corneal skin grafts to repair severe
corneal damage are of great interest to us.
What can I do to prevent or control Dry Eye syndrome?
Have annual eye exams.
See us immediately if you notice Dry Eye symptoms or any
decline in your vision.