Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are insufficiently moisturized, which can be because of either decreased tear production (aqueous tear deficiency or lacrimal hyposecretion) or increased tear film evaporation (evaporative dry eye). The symptoms are worse in winter, towards the end of the day, after reading or using a computer for some time, while driving and out in the wind. Women are more affected than men but it is common in both sexes.
The oil, water and mucus components that make up the tears have to be balanced in order for the tears to coat the eye effectively. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts don’t produce enough tears or because the tears themselves are poorly balanced.
Dry eye caused by insufficient tear production occurs when the lacrimal glands fail to produce enough tears to lubricate and cover the entirety of the conjunctiva and cornea. This condition often occurs in people who have no other adverse health conditions. Age and menopause may be factors as well.
Evaporative dry eye is caused by poor quality of tears. The water that evaporates from the tears leaves tears that are too salty in the eye. These tears, although there may be many, are not getting the job done.
Patients with this condition often experience irritating symptoms and can suffer from more serious vision damage if this condition is left untreated. It is important for patients with this condition to take special care of their eyes in order to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Dr. Cutarelli can diagnose dry eye after a thorough evaluation of your eye and tear production through a Schirmer tear test.
Dry Eye Symptoms
- Blurred Vision
This can be treated a number of ways. For some people, a warm potato wrapped in a damp washcloth can be placed over the eyes for a few minutes, perhaps three times a day, unblocking the lacrimal ducts and allowing tears to flow normally again. A regimen of regular over-the-counter eye drops may be suitable for some patients, applied liberally throughout the day. Using a humidifier in one’s house can help treat dry eye too.
Rather than adding tears, conserving what tears one has is another treatment. Silicone punctal plugs can be used to close the drain by which tears leave the eye. Closure of these channels can conserve tears and improve the effectiveness of artificial tears. Simply put, this procedure allows for more lubrication of the eye.