Dry Eye Syndrome

The symptoms and causes of dry eye vary from person to person in accordance with the nature and extent of the problem. Dry eyes are affected by aging, contact lens wear, medications, allergies, and environmental factors such as a dry climate, wind, and air conditioning. You may also experience dry eye symptoms while driving in a car, reading, watching television, or computer screens. This condition can usually be controlled so that discomfort will be reduced and clear vision can be maintained.

Dry eye is a term used to describe eyes that are not able to lubricate themselves adequately, leading to dry spots on the surface. Your eyes are lubricated by two different types of tears, constant and reflex. These tears are produced by tear glands located mainly in your upper eyelids. Constant tears are continuously produced to lubricate the eye at all times, and they contain natural antibiotics to fight infections. Reflex tears are only produced in response to irritation, injury or emotion and help rinse the surface of the eye. A delicate balance between constant and reflex tears make your eyes feel cool, comfortable, refreshed, and protect from infection. A lack of constant tears will cause dry spots. When this happens, reflex tears begin to overflow in order to compensate for the lack of constant tears. With the overflowing reflex tears, the eyes begin to water excessively beginning a vicious cycle of wet and dry spots. The only way to break this cycle is to create a balance between the two types of natural tears.

Only a doctor can determine if you have Dry Eye Disease. Your Doctor will ask you to describe your dry eye symptoms and the impact that they have on your daily life. The doctor may perform one or more tests to assess your condition. Our office is an Accredited TearLab Dry Eye Center. The TearLab® Osmolarity Test gives doctors information about the salt content of your tears, which is an indicator of Dry Eye Disease.

Tear osmolarity has been shown to have the best predictive value for diagnosing Dry Eye Disease of any single test. TearLab's sophisticated lab on a chip technology tests a tiny tear sample to measure Osmolarity, or the salt content in the tears. The Technician will test both eyes, and the Doctor will look at the highest number of the two tests, to generate Your Osmolarity Number. Your Osmolarity Number gives doctors a meaningful measure of the health and stability of the protective tear film that covers the surface of your eyes. The number generated correlates with the severity of the disease. TearLab aids in accurate and early detection of Dry Eye Disease. Doctors can quantitatively monitor disease severity and can intervene early in the disease process. This will help Doctors custom prescribe therapies that work for each individual.

Dry eye is one of the most common, yet easily treatable eye problems. The most common treatment is to restore moisture with eye drops called “artificial tears.” Artificial tears keep the surface of the eyes moist and lubricated, making your eyes feel more comfortable. People with dry eyes should make the use of artificial tears a basic and regular treatment. The most common reason that artificial tears do not work in remedying dry eyes is that the artificial tears are not used frequently enough! In order to break the cycle of dryness causing excessive tears, it is imperative that the artificial tears be used frequently to keep the eyes lubricated and to prevent the production of unnecessary watery tears. In extreme cases of Dry Eye Syndrome, no matter how often you use artificial tears, it is not enough to control the discomfort. In this case, we will recommend Lacrimal Occlusion.

Lacrimal Occlusion is another approach to keeping the eyes moist with the use of “punctum plugs”. Punctum plugs partially block the tear drainage ducts to preserve the lubricating tears on the surface of the eyes. This procedure may provide you with long-term relief from dry eye symptoms. For many people, Lacrimal Occlusion can reduce or eliminate the need for eye drops altogether, which can save you inconvenience and money.

To find out if you may have dry eye, click here to take a self evaluation of your symptoms. If you answer yes to any two of the questions, print out the list and print it with you to your next eye appointment. Our technicians will perform the TearLab test on both eyes and our Doctor's will use the information to custom prescribe therapies that may work for you.


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