Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn't have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.

With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye, and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear.

 

What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?

Symptoms of dry eyes and dry eye syndrome include:

 

 • Burning sensation

 • Itchy eyes

 • Aching sensations

 • Heavy eyes

 • Fatigued eyes

 • Sore eyes

 • Dryness sensation

 • Red eyes

 • Photophobia (light sensitivity)

 • Blurred vision

 

Another common symptom is something called a foreign body sensation — the feeling that grit or some other object or material is "in" your eye.

 

And as odd as it may sound, watery eyes also can be a symptom of dry eye syndrome. This is because dryness on the eye's surface sometimes will over-stimulate production of the watery component of your tears as a protective mechanism. But this "reflex tearing" does not stay on the eye long enough to correct the underlying dry eye condition.

 

In addition to these symptoms, dry eyes can cause inflammation and (sometimes permanent) damage to the surface of the eye.

 

What Causes Dry Eye?

People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are of a poor quality:

 

 • Inadequate amount of tears. Tears are produced by several glands in and around the eyelids. Tear production tends to diminish with age, with various medical conditions or as a side effect of certain medicines. Environmental conditions, such as wind and dry climates, can also decrease tear volume due to increased tear evaporation. When the normal amount of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.

 

 • Poor quality of tears. Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water and mucus. Each component protects and nourishes the front surface of the eye. A smooth oil layer helps prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucin layer spreads the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If the tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly over the cornea due to deficiencies with any of the three tear layers, dry eye symptoms can develop.

 

The most common form of dry eyes occurs when the water layer of tears is inadequate. This condition, called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is also referred to as dry eye syndrome.

 

How is Dry Eye Syndrome Treated?

Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but your optometrist can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable and to prevent your vision from being affected.

 • Adding tears. Mild cases of dry eyes can often be managed using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. These can be used as often as needed to supplement natural tear production. Preservative-free artificial tear solutions are recommended because they contain fewer additives, which can further irritate the eyes. People with dry eyes that don't respond to artificial tears alone will need to take additional steps to treat their dry eyes.

 

 • Conserving tears. Keeping natural tears in the eyes longer can reduce the symptoms of dry eyes. This can be done by blocking the tear ducts through which the tears normally drain. The tear ducts can be blocked with tiny silicone or gel-like plugs that can be removed, if needed. Or a surgical procedure can permanently close the tear ducts. In either case, the goal is to keep the available tears in the eye longer to reduce problems related to dry eyes.

 

 • Increasing tear production. Your optometrist can prescribe eye drops that increase tear production. Taking an omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplement may also help.

 

 • Treating the contributing eyelid or ocular surface inflammation. Your optometrist might recommend prescription eye drops or ointments, warm compresses and lid massage, or eyelid cleaners to help decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes.

Optics of Scottsdale

20301 N. Hayden Road  |  Suite 100  |  Scottsdale,  AZ 85255

Phone:  (480) 991-0509

Fax: (480) 419-9515

E-mail: info@opticsaz.com

Hours of Operation

Monday  -  Thursday:  9am - 6pm

Friday: 9am - 5pm

Saturday: 9am - 2pm

Accepted Insurance

Avesis  |  BCBS-Most plans  |  Blue View Vision

Eyemed  |  Humana  | Superior Vision  |  VSP

Medicare-Services benefits

Optics of Scottsdale

20301 N. Hayden Road  |  Suite 100  |  Scottsdale,  AZ 85255

Phone:  (480) 991-0509  |  Fax: (480) 419-9515

E-mail: info@opticsaz.com

Hours of Operation

Monday  -  Thursday:  9am - 6pm

Friday: 9am - 5pm

Saturday: 9am - 2pm

Accepted Insurance

Avesis  |  BCBS-Most plans  |  Blue View Vision

Eyemed  |  Humana  | Superior Vision  |  VSP

Medicare-Services benefits