Dry Eye is a vision issue most women deal with during a life span. Dry Eye has two categories – recurring and chronic. Women experiencing short-term dry eye usually overcome the condition with artificial tears. Chronic dry eye indicates a more serious condition and requires a visit to the eye doctor. Dry Eye is one of the top reasons most people visit an eye doctor. Tears help keep the eyes free from infection, smooth and clear.
Lubrication (tears) of the eye contains three elements oil (fatty), water (some salt) and mucous. Dry eye can occur when any one of the three elements is not present. An imbalance in the elements needed to produce tears, damage to the eyelids or side effects of medication cause dry eye conditions.
Blinking evenly spreads a mixture of water, oil and mucous over the surface of the eye. Mucous allows the oil and water to mix and coat the eye. Absence of any of the elements results in improper lubrication of the surface of the eye causing dry eye.
The cause of dry eye expands a list of possibilities including:
1. Age – most women 50 years old and older experience dry eye due to decrease in hormone production.
2. Environmental conditions – dry air, wind, high altitude and tasks requiring prolonged eyestrain (driving, computer use and reading) affect eye lubrication.
3. Eyelid infections or abnormalities can cause decreased tear production.
4. Occurs when damage of the eyes ability to produce proper lubrication is affected by allergies or infection.
5. Certain medications such as high blood pressure, diuretics, anti-depressants, birth control pills, antihistamines, decongestants and pain relievers(Advil, Ibuprofen, and Aleve) cause tears or moisture to dry too quickly.
6. Radiation treatments
7. Laser eye surgery
8. Diet low in vitamin A (liver, carrots and broccoli) and Omega–three oils (fish, walnuts and vegetable oils) affects the eyes ability to hold moisture.
Signs or Symptoms of Dry Eye:
1. Eyes easily strained when reading, driving, using computer or around smoke.
2. Eyes become sensitive to light or contact lenses.
3. A feeling of scratchy, Stinging, burning sensations or built up mucous around the eyes develops.
4. An over production of tears, redness, irritated, painful or tired eyes occurring for an extended time.
5. Vision becomes fuzzy or blurred especially near the end of a day.
Treatment or therapy of Dry Eye includes:
1. Occasional or recurring conditions usually managed with the use of over-the-counter artificial (with or without preservatives) teardrops and hygienic washing of the eyelids.
2. Chronic dry eye the more serious condition must have eye doctor determine cause of dry eye condition and prescribe a treatment regiment.
Treatment Regiments for Chronic dry Eye:
1. Condition caused by certain medication – doctor can recommend a different medication without side effect causing dry eye.
2. Abnormal eyelid condition – requires referral to cosmetic surgeon to repair eyelids.
3. Dry eye caused by autoimmune disorder – requires a referral to autoimmune specialists.
1. Antibiotics (drops, ointment, or pill forms)
2. Prescription eye drops
3. Medications that produce moisture for surface of eye – such as prescription eye inserts.
4. Lack of tears – surgery for a complete or partial closure of the tear ducts of the eyes.
Visit the Eye Doctor if you experience prolonged sensations of eye redness, pain, strained/tired or irritated symptoms of the eyes. Simple washing of the eyelids with warm water and soap (Johnson’s No More Tears baby Shampoo), wiping the eyes with a warm washcloth and artificial tears usually does the job for overcoming occasional dry eye. Prolonged chronic dry eye requires a comprehensive eye exam to identify possible causes.