to About the Eye

Dry Eye Syndrome


Definition


Dry eye is a condition that affects millions of people every day. It is often a normal part of the aging process. Other
causes include exposure to environmental conditions, injuries to the eye, or general health problems. For
example, people with arthritis and diabetes are more prone to dry eye. Some other specific causes of dry eye
include:


  •      Sun
  •      Wind
  •      Cold
  •      Dry air
  •      Indoor heating and air conditioning
  •      Computer screens
  •      High altitudes
  •      Eye surgery


Dry eye syndrome is literally the eye's inability to lubricate and tear correctly.  Oddly enough, some people who
have dry eye syndrome actually tear excessively.  Unfortunately, the pH or acidity of their tears is altered so that
the eyes still feel dry and itchy, causing them to tear continuously.


It is very common, especially in the older population, particularly in older women.   Women often experience dry
eye syndrome during and after menopause, due to a decrease in female hormone levels.  Other hormone-altering
events such as pregnancy, menstruation and the use of birth control can contribute to dry eye syndrome.  


The use of certain medications can also alter the eye's ability to lubricate.  Some of the most common medications
are:


  •        antihistamines
  •        decongestants
  •        blood pressure medication
  •        antidepressants
  •        anti-anxiety medication


Certain types of diseases can also alter the eyes.  These include:


  •        thyroid deficiencies
  •        Sjorgrens syndrome
  •        rheumatoid arthritis
  •        autoimmune disorders (i.e. lupus, HIV)
  •        Bell's palsy
  •        myasthenia gravis


Symptoms


The severity and symptoms of dry eye vary from person to person, although there are three distinct degrees of
dryness: mild, moderate, and severe. Symptoms of dry eye include:


  •        Redness
  •        Burning
  •        Itching
  •        Scratchiness
  •        Tearing
  •        Sensitivity to light
  •        Mucus secretion


It is important to note some people suffer from all symptoms, while others may experience only a few. If you are
experiencing any of the above symptoms, be sure to ask your eye doctor about dry eye. If you have dry eye, your
doctor can help you choose an eye lubricant that's right for you.


Treatment


Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following treatments:

  • artificial teardrops
  • long lasting lubricating gels
  • ointments placed in the eyes to lubricate
  • temporarily or permanently plugging the tears ducts while manually replacing the tears with drops or      
    ointments
  • hormone replacement, if due to menopause
  • change in birth control prescription, if applicable


No cure currently exists for dry eye syndrome.  Your doctor can help you address the symptoms.


©  Copyright 1999 Dialog Medical, Inc.  All rights reserved.


Midwest Retina Associates, Inc.