Suffer From Dry Eyes? Here’s What You Should Know

Your tear system works to nourish and protect the eye. Tears maintain clarity of vision and a clean, healthy eye environment. Tears are produced by glands in and around your eyelids. They are made of a combination of oil, water and mucus.

Healthy Eyes and Tear Production

When your tear system is functioning well, tears help to:

● Hydrate the cornea and provide lubrication

● Cleanse the eyes of foreign bodies

● Reduce the risk of eye infections

When your tear system isn’t functioning well, you will experience stinging, burning or itchy eyes. Everyone can experience occasional eye discomfort. Regular discomfort, however, may be a sign of something more.

Dry Eyes and Insufficient Tear Production

When someone has dry eyes, they suffer from a lack of healthy tear production. Tear production can decrease because of the following:

● Age: We secrete fewer tears as we age normally.

● Hormonal changes: Women in menopause can experience dry eyes.

● Medical conditions: Diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and lupus can cause dry eyes.

● Side effects of medications: High blood pressure drugs, hormone replacement therapy, some antidepressants, some acne treatment drugs, some antihistamines and decongestants can all cause dry eyes.

● Environmental conditions: Wind and dry climates can cause tear evaporation.

Contact lenses and damage to tear glands have also contributed to dry eyes.

Symptoms Accompanying Dry Eyes

Symptoms of dry eye include the following:

● Itching, burning or stinging in your eyes

● Discomfort in air-conditioned rooms or on airplanes

● Increased irritation around smoke or wind

● Sensation that something is in your eyes

● Irritation after staring at computer screens

● Blurred vision

● Sensitivity to light

● Discomfort when wearing contact lenses

Chronic Dry Eye Syndrome

Chronic dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, also called dry eye syndrome, is a disease stemming from lack of adequate water in the tears. When this problem occurs, you will suffer more than occasional bouts of dry eyes. Another form of dry eye syndrome occurs when there is inflammation in the eye. You’ll need to have an eye exam to determine if you are suffering from either condition.

Treatment for Dry Eyes

If you have occasional or mild dry eyes, you can find an over-the-counter teardrop that lubricates. Avoid any that claim to “lessen redness” as these have been found to increase irritation.

If you have chronic dry eye syndrome, you will need to schedule an eye exam. Tests will include measuring your tear volume and determining the quality of your tears. Treatment may include medications, closing your tear ducts to lessen tear loss, or eye inserts.

The experienced ophthalmologists and optometrists at East Side Eye Associates (212-861-6200) and Tribeca Eye Associates (212-693-7200) specialize in all of these conditions. To improve your vision while you work at your computer, call us now.