Dry Eye Center
Our tears are a complicated system containing an outer oily layer, a middle watery layer, and an inner mucous layer. Any imbalance in these layers can cause the tear film to dehydrate resulting in Dry Eye Syndrome.
Dry Eye Syndrome Jacksonville
What is it?
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture in the eye. Persistent dryness, scratching, burning, and redness in your eyes are signs of dry eye syndrome. Some people also experience a “foreign body sensation,” the feeling like there’s something in the eye. And, it may seem odd, but sometimes watery eyes can result from dry eye syndrome, because the excessive dryness works to over stimulate the watery component of your eye’s tears.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
In dry eye syndrome, the eye doesn’t produce enough tears, or the tears have a chemical composition that causes them to evaporate too quickly. Dry eye syndrome has several causes such as the following:
- Part of the natural aging process, especially during menopause
- A side effect of many medications, such as antihistamines (allergy pills), antidepressants, certain blood pressure medicines, Parkinson’s medications, and birth control pills
- Environmental (dry or dusty climate, air conditioning or dry heating, staring at screens)
- Symptom of systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea or Sjogren’s syndrome (a triad of dry eyes, dry mouth, and rheumatoid arthritis or lupus).
- Long-term contact lens wear is another cause; in fact, dry eyes are the most common complaint among contact lens wearers.
How is it treated?
What are the Symptoms?
The effects of dry eye vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms experienced are as follows:
- irritated, scratchy, dry eyes
- feeling of something in the eye
- eye redness (many times friends and co-workers think they are abusing drugs or alcohol due to the severe eye redness)
- fluctuating vision
- excessive watering due to reflex tearing that kicks in when the eye gets dry (Yes this is the ironic part of the disease!)
Excessive dry eye can damage eye tissues and cause excessive redness. Currently there is no cure for Dry Eye Syndrome but there a variety of ways to manage the condition.
Change in Lifestyle
Stop smoking, limit caffeine intake, keep hydrated with drinking water throughout the day.
Using a humidifier at home or work, avoiding wind and dust, and trying to blink more frequently when reading or focusing for an extended period of time may reduce the effects of dry eyes.
Instilling the drops several times a day or as needed can help people who have mild dryness. Lubricating ointments are also available and can be applied to the eyes at night to help maintain moisture during sleep. The drawback of this therapy is that the effects of artificial tears are generally short lived, and some people have to use the drops frequently throughout the day to remain comfortable. In this case, the use of drops or ointment is too inconvenient and unacceptable to some people. Drops such as Visine and Clear eyes are not very effective in treating the condition and patients usually waste money and delay getting professional help since they think the symptoms will go away.
Omega 3 fatty acids support proper tear secretion and tear film health. I recommend Omega Max which is manufactured by Amerisciences and is the Omega 3 used by NASA for the astronauts, The gel tablets are made from cold water fish such as cod, mackerel, and salmon. The fish oil is very high quality free of any heavy metal contaminants. Plus the capsule is designed to dissolve in your intestine instead of the stomach which avoids the “fishy burps”. It takes about 2 -3 months of treatment before any improvement is noted.
A technique called punctal occlusion may reduce or even eliminate the need for lubricating eye drops or ointment. The tears naturally drain out of the eye into the nasal passages through openings in the eyelid called puncta. The puncta are located toward the inner corner of the eye, and there is one punctum on each of the upper and lower eyelids. Medical grade collagen or silicone plugs may be inserted in the puncta to inhibit drainage and keep the tears in contact with the eye for a longer period of time.
Usually, punctal plugs are applied to only the lower punctum, but in some cases all four puncta may be blocked. Punctal occlusion is a fairly simple, painless procedure and can be performed in an eye doctors office. In addition, the plugs may be removed at any time if excessive tearing is produced. In addition to the above treatments, researchers are investigating some alternative treatments with medications that are in the experimental phase now and may be approved in the near future.
Although dry eye is a chronic syndrome and cannot be cured, the current treatments and lifestyle changes do bring relief for the millions of Americans suffering with the symptoms of dryness. Consult your eye care professional for the latest treatment options appropriate for you.