Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition where the person, usually aged 40 or older, experiences any of these symptoms on a regular (usually daily) basis: eyes that feel dry, moist or watery (yes, Dry Eye Syndrome can sometimes result in eyes that overflow with tears); eyes that burn, sting, or itch; eyes that feel tired after use at a computer; vision that is filmy; eyes that are bloodshot; eyes that are irritated or hurt.
Recent research has shown that Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a chronic inflammatory condition (like arthritis).
Normally, the front surface of the eye is kept moist by secretions of water, mucus and oil from glands in the eyelids. These secretions ooze out from tiny pores along our eyelid margins, near where the lashes grow out. When we blink, our eyelids smear these ingredients together over the front surface of the eye (the cornea) to form a layer of moisture called the “tear film.” Anything that interferes with the regular spreading of a good quality tear film over the front surface of the eye will cause Dry Eye Syndrome.
There are many things that can interfere with this process. Sometimes the pores from these tear glands get clogged. Sometimes there is not enough of, or too much of, one of the ingredients that comprise the tear film. Several types of medications can affect the quality of our tear film. Sometimes our environment can affect our tear film (in an airplane where the air is dry; sitting near a fan or HVAC vent; etc.). Certain diseases, such as Sjogren’s Syndrome, can lead to DES.
There are now improved methods of diagnosing this frustrating condition that allow us to develop a customized program of treatment for you. Such programs may include various prescription medications, over-the-counter products, life-style changes, modifications to the home or work environment, etc.
Be sure to mention your dry eye symptoms when calling our office to schedule an appointment.
Punctal plugs, or tear duct plugs are silicone plugs that can be inserted to close the ducts that drain tears out of the eye. This reduces the flushing away of the tears, allowing them to stay on the eye surface longer. The doctors can insert these plugs in a matter of minutes, during an office visit. After placement, the plugs cannot be seen, won’t rub out or scratch your cornea, usually are not felt, and if necessary, are removable by your doctor.