Causes & New Concepts Regarding Treatment
This imbalance can cause a wide range of symptoms including a sensation of dryness, scratchiness, burning itching, redness and extreme light sensitivity. It is often associated with intermittent blurriness of vision and a feeling of excessive tiredness of the eyes. Paradoxically, dry eye syndrome can also cause the eyes to be excessively watery. This occurs when there is a marked decrease in the lubricating quality of the tear film. In the absence of good lubrication, the surface of the eye becomes rough and irritated. This causes the out-pouring of thin, watery, salty tears with no lubricating properties.
There is no known cure for dry eye syndrome, but a number of things can be done to help relieve the symptoms.
If possible, medications known to make dry eye symptoms more severe should be eliminated. Patients taking hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants or diuretics may experience a worsening of dry eye symptoms.
However, patients should consult their personal physicians before discontinuing these medications. Stopping these medications without medical advice or supervision may lead to other serious medical problems.
The main stay of treatment for the dry eye is artificial tears. The frequent use of “tears” such as Refresh Tears, GenTeal, Moisture Drops or Tears Naturalle II can be very helpful. The key is to use “tears” throughout the day to prevent the surface of the eye from becoming rough and irritated. If “tears” are used only after the eyes have already become irritated, the drops provide only momentary relief.
The goal is to provide better lubrication to the surface of the eye before irritation occurs. Patients with very dry eyes frequently find it necessary to use “tears” every 1-2 hours throughout the day. In addition, ointments, such as RefreshPM, may be beneficial.
Ointments are typically used only before bedtime because their application can cause vision to become temporarily blurry.
When artificial lubricants such as “tears” and ointments, fail to relieve dry eye symptoms, the next step to consider is Punctal Plugs. These “plugs” help patients with reduced tear production hold on to the small amount of lubrication that they make naturally. The “plugs” also help the artificial tears stay in the eye longer. The “plugs” are tiny, soft devices that are easily inserted in the tear drainage system in the eyelid near the nose.
This in-office procedure is painless and can be successful in reducing dry eye symptoms in many patients. Initially, most doctors insert temporary collagen plugs, which dissolve after a few days. If this results in the amelioration of symptoms, a more permanent soft, silastic plug is then inserted. Insertion of Punctal Plugs is often a very helpful option for treating dry eye syndrome and the “plugs” are easily removed should reversal ever be desired.
Dry Eye Syndrome is the most common of all eye disorders. It is estimated that over ten million Americans suffer from this disturbance. Most cases result from normal aging of the lubricating glands of the eye, but dry eye symptoms can occur at any age. While the process can occur in both men and women, dry eye syndrome is most common in pregnant and post-menopausal women. Approximately 50% of women over the age of 65 experience dry eye symptoms with varying degrees of severity.
Dry eye syndrome is primarily caused by an imbalance in the quality and/or quantity of lubrication to the surface of the eye.
For more information and a video tutorial please click on the instructional video below.
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