Dry eye syndrome is a condition in which your eyes are insufficiently moisturized because you either don’t produce enough tears or your tears are poor quality. It causes uncomfortable symptoms including:
Stinging or burning eyes
Strings of mucus in your eyes, especially when you wake up
Red, irritated eyes
Excessively watery eyes
Blurry, fluctuating vision
Your tears have three layers: oily, watery, and mucus. The innermost layer, the mucus, spreads your tears over your eyes, keeping them moist. The middle layer is the watery layer. Water makes up the largest part of your tears and washes particles and debris out of your eyes. The outermost oily layer keeps your tears smooth and prevents them from drying too quickly.
If the consistency of your tears is unbalanced, your tears don’t clean and moisturize your eyes correctly, leading to dry eye symptoms.
Dry eye syndrome is also caused by a malfunctioning meibomian gland, which is responsible for making your tears. Many other factors contribute to dry eye syndrome, including:
Health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, and lupus
Eyelid conditions such as blepharitis, entropion, and ectropion
Extended contact lens use
Living in a dry or windy climate
Spending many hours staring at a computer screen
Certain medications like beta-blockers, antihistamines, and antidepressants
Your age and gender also contribute to your risk of dry eye syndrome. As you age, your hormones change and your body produces fewer tears. Dry eye syndrome is also more common in women than men, because of the hormonal changes of menopause.
Dr. Parnell offers customized care for dry eye syndrome, depending on the severity of your condition. Once Dr. Parnell understands what may be triggering your dry eye symptoms, she can determine a combination of treatments for effective relief based on your individual diagnosis. Here a few treatment options that Dr. Parnell advises.
Using warm compresses with a heated eye mask can ease malfunctioning meibomian glands located in and around your eyelids to soothe dry, itchy eyes. A new treatment using radiofrequency heats the glands and loosens the oils to help protect the surface of the eye and keep the tears from evaporating. As a bonus, it also treats wrinkles and crow’s feet around the eyes!
You may benefit from the use of preservative-free artificial tears. Many brands are available over the counter at your local pharmacy. You might need to try several brands to find the best formula for you or certain prescription eye drops to treat the inflammation that can be associated with dry eye.
Certain nutritional deficiencies can also be associated with dry eye symptoms. Using supplements containing specific omega 3 fatty acids are also very beneficial.
Remember, not all artificial tears are suitable for use with contact lenses. Dr. Parnell can recommend brands that are safe to use with contacts.
In severe cases, Dr. Parnell may suggest punctal plugs. Punctal plugs block your tear ducts to prevent your tears from draining too quickly.
Call Perceptions Eye Health & Wellness or make an appointment online today for expert treatment of dry eye syndrome.