Dry Eye Syndrome is the lack of lubrication or moisture in the eyes related to the tear film and production of natural tears. This syndrome can be caused by factors including the natural aging process, cold medicines, contact lens wear, and certain environmental factors.
If you have a dry and scratchy feeling, or a burning sensation, you may be experiencing dry eye. In order to determine if you are suffering from this syndrome, it is important to make an appointment with the dry eye specialists at Clay Eye Physicians and Surgeons. During this appointment, a Schirmer test will be conducted to determine the severity of the dryness.
What causes dry eyes?
The exact cause of Dry Eye Syndrome is still being researched by the medical community, but it has been determined that certain elements are known to cause dry eyes. Certain diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or Sjögren’s Syndrome can cause dry eyes. Some prescription medications and over-the-counter medicine can also lead to dry eyes, as well as contact lens wear, and environmental factors. Some medications known to cause dry eyes are antihistamines, such as Benadryl, some blood pressure medications and anti-depressants. Also, if you are a smoker, you are at risk for developing Dry Eye Syndrome.
The Tear Film
The tear film is made up of three different layers: an oily layer, a watery layer and a mucin layer. The small glands on the edge of the eyelid, called meibomian glands, produce the oily layer of the tear film. The oily layer is what smoothes the tear surface and decreases the evaporation of tears. The watery layer is the middle layer and the largest layer. The watery layer is produced by small glands on the conjunctiva which is the membrane lining the inside of the eyelid and covering the eyeball. The innermost layer is the mucus layer produced by goblet cells in the conjuctiva. This layer is what allows the watery layer to spread evenly over the surface of the eye and helps to keep the eye moist.
Dry Eye Syndrome is difficult to cure, but there are certain treatments to help reduce the effects including:
- Dry eye drops: Certain over-the-counter drops can help relieve dry eyes in the short term. Artificial tears are available without a prescription and can be used as often as necessary for relief.
- Flax seed oil tablets or oil: Studies have shown that flax seed oil can minimize the effects of Dry Eye Syndrome. It has been determined that ingesting the oil is better than taking the tablets because of how it is absorbed into your system.
- Punctal Plugs: These plugs are inserted to help with the natural tear flow.
Nutraceuticals or dry eye vitamins: Certain vitamins have been shown to significantly help Dry Eye Syndrome. They are also a good source of other essential minerals. In most cases, consistent usage is required for results.
- Restasis: The prescription eye drop might be a great option for your dry eye symptoms. It is important that you have a complete eye exam, so your physician can accurately diagnose and treat individual situation/symptoms.