What is Dry Eye Disease
Tears aren’t just for crying. Your eyes constantly produce tears to help lubricate and protect your corneas. Each time you blink, the tears are spread out across the eye, coating it. For people who suffer from dry eye syndrome, the eyes simply do not produce enough tears consistently to do the job.
Dry eye is one of the most common eye afflictions. It is most prevalent in older women, but can affect people of any gender at any age. Statistics estimate around 3.2 million women and 1.68 million men age 50 and over suffer from dry eye disease.
Glands located in and around your eyelids make tears. Healthy tears consist of three parts — oil, water, and mucus. Each part plays a vital role in the overall health of the eye. The water adds moisture. The oil protects the water from evaporation. The mucus helps the tears spread evenly and coat the surface of the eye.
When a person no longer produces enough tears or their tears do not have the right balance of the three ingredients, dry eye disease is the result.
There are many possible symptoms of dry eye disease. If you notice any of these occurring for a prolonged period, it may be time to see your optometrist for a proper diagnosis.
- Redness in the eye
- Itching or stinging sensation in the eyes.
- Light sensitivity
- Mucus collecting in or around the eyes
- Complications with contact lenses
- Difficulty driving at night
- Sensation of sand or grit in the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Eye fatigue
There is no permanent cure for dry eye disease. However, most mild cases can be managed easily with over-the-counter artificial tears. These drops are inexpensive and work to keep your eyes properly moistened and protected.
If there is a known cause for the dry eyes such as reaction to a certain medication or issues with contact lenses, the first step is to address the issue. Changing medications or contacts could be all it takes to get the tears flowing properly again.
For more severe cases, an optometrist may suggest plugging the holes in the eye where the tears drain naturally, therefore keeping the tears in the eye for longer periods of time. This involves the placement of tiny removeable plugs or a more permanent surgical procedure to close the ducts.
Dry eye disease is all too common and may go overlooked by many who have it. However, the health of the outer eye helps to protect the eye as a whole and the vision it provides. Treatment for dry eye disease is readily available. Those who are suffering from the common symptoms should set an appointment with their optometrist for a complete diagnosis!
Dr. Travis Zigler
Other Dry Eye articles by Dr. Zigler: 4 Tips to Stop Waking Up With Dry, Painful Eyes; Which Antidepressants Cause Dry Eye; Fish Oil for Fighting Dry Eye Inflammation; and What Not To Eat If You Have Dry Eye
by Dr. Travis Zigler | Posted in blinking, blurry vision, contact lenses, difficulty driving at night, Dr. Travis Zigler, dry eye, dry eyes, eye fatigue, Eye Love Blog, grit in the eyes, itchy, light sensitivity, mucus in the eye, no tears, Omega 3 Supplement, optometrist, red eye, symptoms and treatments for dry eye | |
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