What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
At The Mercy Center for Corrective Surgery we are committed to helping our patients overcome dry eye syndrome. Dry eye is a general term used to describe a heterogeneous group of diseases resulting from inadequate wetting of the cornea and conjunctiva by the precorneal tear film (PCTF). Millions of people worldwide suffer from dry eye.
Despite its high prevalence, dry eye is not always easy to diagnose. The vast majority of patients have symptoms that are mild to moderate in severity. Although these patients are genuinely suffering from discomfort, objective signs of dry eye may be missed, and without proper diagnosis, patients may not receive the attention and treatment that this condition warrants.
The signs and symptoms of dry eye can be misinterpreted as evidence of other conditions such as infectious, allergic, or irritative conjunctivitis.
What causes Dry Eye?
Dry eye conditions are classified as various types of abnormalities that can lead to insufficient wetting of the corneal surface. These classifications are:
- Abnormalities of the aqueous layer
- Abnormalities of the mucin layer
- Abnormalities of the lipid layer
- Abnormalities of the corneal epithelium
- Abnormalities of the lids
What are the signs and symptoms of Dry Eye?
The symptoms of dry eye vary considerably from one individual to another. Most patients complain of a foreign body sensation, burning and general ocular discomfort. The discomfort is typically described as a scratchy, dry, sore, gritty, smarting or burning feeling. Discomfort is the hallmark of dry eye because the cornea is richly supplied with sensory nerve fibers.
A significant percentage of patients also experience photophobia and intermittent blurring or other problems with visual acuity.
Individuals with dry eye commonly remark that their eyes tire easily, making it difficult for them to read or watch television. The reason for this difficulty is that the frequency of blinking typically decreases during tasks that require concentration. As blink frequency decreases, there is more time for the tear film to evaporate. If blinking is infrequent enough, the duration of exposure will exceed the BUT, resulting in the formation of one or more dry spots on the corneal surface.
Contact lens intolerance can also be a symptom of dry eye. Sometimes, a patient with mild to moderate dry eye may not experience symptoms until contact lenses are fitted. The placement of a contact lens can upset the delicate balance of tear film production and distribution, leading to lens intolerance.
Content: Alcon Labs
For more information regarding dry eye or dry eye syndrome, visit www.dry-eye-syndrome.net
New Treatments Bring More Comfort to Dry Eyes
by Dr. Robert Epstein
Dry eyes annoy many people especially during the winter. People with dry eyes generally have eye irritation. Other people with tear insufficiency may even have tears running down the face yet the real problem is inadequate tear output without the extra stimulation that eye irritation makes. Many people with sensitivity to fluorescent light actually have dry eyes as the cause. Dry eyes can cause chronic blurring of vision.
Diseases and medications can dry the eyes. Such medicines include those for allergy relief, diuretics or water pills, and medications women may take for urinary frequency. Any disease that increases fluid loss such as diarrhea or fever can worsen dry eyes.
Eye dryness can cause difficulty wearing contact lenses and make for more suffering from other problems like eye allergy, cigarette smoke eye irritation, and chronic eyelid infection. Sometimes very mild pain from dry may make the eyes itch, yet eye rubbing may worsen the condition by mildly injuring the front eye surface.
For dry eyes there are various types of artificial tears to augment moisture. Artificial tears need to be used on a regular basis and often enough during the day to allow the tissue of the cornea to repair itself. This means at least three times daily and often as much as ten times daily, not just when eyes hurt, in order to reverse the subtle eye damage that causes irritation. One eye drop, SootheR, which contains mineral oil, slows tear evaporation and is useful twice daily in addition to other tear supplements.
Drinking more water, reducing excessive alcohol consumption, placing skin lotion on the skin to lessens body fluid evaporation during the cold, dry months, sleeping in a room with a humidifier helps, and taking flax seed oil dietary supplement to reduce tear evaporation all may help reduce dry eye problems. If your urine is deep yellow, you should drink more water.
There are new treatments and an eye-MD (ophthalmologist) should be consulted for help. A more or less permanent improvement in eye moisture can be accomplished when the doctor painlessly, non-surgically inserts tiny gel plugs into the tear removal system while the patient sits in the examining chair. The newer versions of plugs cannot be seen or felt, their effect remains for years, and health insurance pays for their insertion. Slowing tear removal not only improves eye comfort but may improve vision.
New medicines are helping dry eye sufferers. Many people have dry eye due to an immune reaction in the body against the tear glands. A FDA-approved new medicine called RestasisR or cyclosporine helps the eye make more of its own moisture by reversing that immune reaction. It takes months for RestasisR to repair the tear making glands. Treatment of dry eyes often involves all the methods taken together for best effect.
Epstein specializes in diseases and surgery of the eye in McHenry Illinois. His internship and residency were at the University of Illinois. He introduced LASIK, no-stitch cataract surgery, and procedures to reverse middle-age focusing loss to Chicagoland, he has two recent lasik-related laser patents and he has written two books.