What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye, or dry eye syndrome (DES), is a condition that affects millions of people. It is often a normal part of the aging process, and is more common in older people. Other causes include exposure to environmental irritants, injuries to the eye or certain health conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid deficiencies, autoimmune disorders (i.e., Sjogren’s Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus or HIV), Bell’s Palsy and Myasthenia Gravis.
Dry eye syndrome is literally the eye’s inability to lubricate and tear correctly. Strangely enough, some people who have dry eye syndrome actually tear excessively because the pH of their tears is altered so that their eyes feel dry and itchy.
The use of certain medications can also alter the eye’s ability to remain well lubricated. Some of the most common medications are:
- Blood pressure medications
- Anti-anxiety medications
Dry Eye SymptomsDry eye symptoms can vary from person to person. It is common for many of us to experience dry eye symptoms, but those with DES are likely to have a more severe degree of these symptoms, including:
- Blurry vision
- Excessive watering
- Eye fatigue
Dry Eye TreatmentYour doctor may prescribe one or more of the following treatments for dry eye syndrome:
- Artificial tears
- Long-lasting lubricating gels
- Temporary or permanent plugging of the tear ducts, in addition to replacing the tears with drops or ointments
- Change in medications that can cause dry eye
- Prescription medication for chronic, moderate to severe dry eye (e.g., Restasis)
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