Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Eye Syndrome
The quality of your tears plays an enormous role in the health of your eyes. Tears keep the eyes comfortably lubricated, wash out particles and other irritants, and help to maintain good vision. When not enough tears are produced, or they lack the proper composition, dry eye syndrome can occur.
Affecting about 20 percent of the population, dry eye syndrome is a condition that causes burning, scratchiness, dryness, or a painful sensation in the eyes; in certain cases, it can also cause excessive tearing. It is especially prevalent in older people, and two to three times more likely to affect women than men. People with dry eye syndrome may notice that these symptoms worsen after long periods of working at the computer, reading, or watching TV. If left untreated, severe dry eye syndrome can cause corneal damage, leading to impaired vision. It is critical, therefore, that you see an ophthalmologist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
At Pinehurst Surgical Clinic, we treat dry eye syndrome with a number of different therapies, depending on the severity of the condition. For patients with mild symptoms, we may recommend the use of artificial tears to temporarily alleviate the effects. Preservative-free artificial tears are best, since they are more soothing and less likely to further irritate the eyes than those with preservatives. When symptoms are serious, any of the following treatments may be prescribed.
When inflammation of the cornea is involved, we may also prescribe an eye drop that can help enhance the patient’s natural tear production. Topical steroids in the form of an ointment or eyedrops may also be used to reduce inflammation.
For eyes that do not respond to treatment with eyedrops or ointment, we may recommend a simple procedure in which the flow of tears is blocked off by plugging the tear ducts. Punctal plugs, available in either dissolvable collagen or permanent silicone, help to keep the eyes moist since the tears no longer drain into the nose from the tear ducts. Punctal plugs are usually reserved for moderate to severe cases of dry eye syndrome.
Patients with dry eye syndrome can take specialized nutritional supplements which can stimulate the natural production of eye lubricants.
What You Can Do
If you have dry eye syndrome, there are a number of things you can do on your own to improve your condition. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and to flush out impurities (eight to ten glasses a day are recommended). Make a conscious effort to blink your eyes more frequently, especially during prolonged periods of reading or watching TV. Avoid cigarette smoke, overly heated rooms, and wind.