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Dry Eye Disease

Dry Eye Disease

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are insufficiently moisturized, leading to blurry vision, foreign body sensation, redness and pain, from dry areas on the surface of the eye. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts don’t produce enough tears, or because the tears themselves have a chemical imbalance.

The Causes Of Dry Eyes

Dry eye can develop when the tear ducts are not producing a sufficient number of tears. Or the condition can be due to a chemical imbalance in the tears themselves. The tears our body produces require a particular chemical balance to lubricate the eyes efficiently. Sometimes, your eyes are actually overproducing tears due to the irritation in your eyes, but the tears aren’t the right consistency to help.

Ohio Ophthalmology Dry Eye Disease

Aging makes us all more likely to develop dry eye — it’s more common in people over the age of 50. It can be a side effect of taking certain medications, a sign of another medical condition, or the results from an injury.

Women tend to get dry eye more than men due to the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and menopause. Oral contraceptives can also lead to inconsistent tear ingredients.

These Are Other Causes Of Dry Eye:

  • Antihistamines, decongestants, and blood pressure medications
  • Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind, and excessive sun
  • Eye injury
  • Long-term contact lens use
  • Eye or eyelid surgery
  • Conjunctivitis or keratitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disease

What Are The Symptoms Of Dry Eye?

These are the signs and symptoms of dry eye, which usually affects both eyes:

  • Stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in your eyes
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision
  • A sensation of having something in your eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Difficulty with nighttime driving
  • Watery eyes
  • Eye fatigue

How Long Can Dry Eyes Last?

Everyone has dry eye from time to time. It could be due to an allergy medication you’ve taken in the spring. It could be due to a windy day when out at the coast. You could have stared at your computer screen for too long today. For most people who suffer from occasional or mild dry eye, using over-the-counter artificial tears is all the treatment necessary. These symptoms will pass within a few days at most.

Chronic dry eye is another story. This chronic dry eye could be the result of problems with your eyelids, your tear quality, or that your tears are exiting your eyes too quickly.

Why Can Dry Eyes Cause Blurry Vision?

Dry eye can cause blurry vision. A healthy tear film doesn’t simply keep the front of the eye moist, it is also important for clear vision. Your tears must have the correct balance of water, oils, and mucus to allow the tear film to spread evenly across the surface of the cornea. If the tears evaporate too easily or become too oily and mucus-filled, these can make your vision blurry. Blinking fully and frequently can decrease this, as it spreads the tear film across the cornea.

Dry Eye Treatment

When your dry eye is persistent, we will diagnose the cause and provide the appropriate treatment. These are some treatment options.

  • Switching medications — Since certain medications, such as anti-anxiety drugs, have a side effect of causing dry eye, simply changing to another available drug can end your dry eye.
  • Eyelid problems — For entropion or ectropion, where the eyelids are turned the wrong way, you’ll need to have surgery to correct the eye controlling muscles.
  • Treating the disease — If you have rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid disease, treating those conditions can alleviate your dry eye.
  • Medications for dry eye — We may prescribe various medications to treat your dry eyes:
    1. 1. Eyedrops to control cornea inflammation — If you have inflammation on your cornea, this can be controlled with prescription eye drops that contain immune-suppressing medications. Corticosteroids can also be used, but not long term.
    2. 2. Drugs to reduce eyelid inflammation — If you have inflammation along the edge of your eyelids this can limit the amount of oil secreted into the tears, making them too watery and easily evaporated.
  • Punctal plugs — If your tears are exiting your eyes too quickly, we may opt to partially or completely close your tear ducts. To do this, tiny silicone plugs, known as punctual plugs, are inserted into the ducts. These are removable if your condition changes.
  • Unblocking oil glands — Warm compresses can be effective for clearing blocked oil glands in your eyelids with warm compresses.

When Should I Contact A Doctor For My Dry Eye?

When you have prolonged periods where you have the signs and symptoms of dry eye, that’s not normal and you should be evaluated by an eye doctor. If you have the following issues for a prolonged period, please contact us:

  • Red eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery eyes
  • Difficulty during night driving
  • Blurred vision
  • Contact lens discomfort
  • End-of-day tension headaches