Dry eye disease is a lack of tear production and moisture on the surface of the eye which can decrease the quality of your vision and overall comfort. Due to the eye becoming dehydrated , inflammation sets in and compromises the tear production and corneal integrity. The epithelial cells can breakdown and erode resulting in lid infections, styes, corneal ulcers, and corneal erosion. Early symptoms of dry eye include: fluctuating or blurred vision, excessive tearing, burning/stinging, gritty or sandy sensation, and the feeling something foreign is in your eye.
Unfortunately, this condition is often misdiagnosed and it’s effect on the quality and comfort of vision is often underestimated by the medical provider. Detecting the underlying cause is essential for the successful treatment of dry eyes. The time rendered and expertise of the doctor, in conjunction with the use of modern technology, is important in determining the best course of treatment for each individual.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome can vary depending on the severity of the condition but can include:
- Burning or itching sensation
- Sandy/gritting feeling
- Contact lens discomfort
- Fluctuation of vision
- Excessive tearing
- Light sensitivity
- Eye pain or soreness
The main function of tears is to maintain the health of the cornea of your eye by washing away foreign matter and ensuring that the surface of your eye remains moist, smooth and clear. Tears also rinse away dust particles from your eyes and contain enzymes that protect your eyes from bacteria that can cause infections. Dry eyes is a condition that develops when the amount of tears produced is not sufficient to maintain the moisture balance in your eye. This can result in that scratchy sensation, a continuous feeling of dryness, stinging and a sensation of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically in an effort to fight off the condition, dry eyes can cause you to produce excessive tears, which is why some people experience watery eyes.
- Age: 75% of the population 65yrs and older experience dry eye syndrome
- Medications: Anti-Depressants, Decongestants, Antihistamines, Blood Pressure Medication, Oral Contraceptives, Diuretics, Ulcer Medication, Tranquilizers, and Beta Blockers are some of the medications that decrease the body’s ability to produce quality, lubricating tears.
- Environmental conditions: Unfortunately being exposed to every day environmental factors such as pollution, smoke, wind, air conditioning, “Arizona’s dry heat climate”, and florescent lights can evaporate tears.
- Disease: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Thyroid Abnormality, Asthma, Cataracts, Glaucoma, Lupus and Rosacea are just a few of the conditions that can contribute to dry eye symptoms
- Refractive surgery: Candidates thinking of having Lasik, RK, PRK, or LTK procedures should consult with their eyecare professional regarding the risk factors for dry eye syndrome associated with the surgery.
- Computer or gaming usage: In most cases, a person who stares at a computer for more that 1 hour a day reduces the amount of blinking by 70%. Blinking is a vital function in tear production, by ignoring blinking you eyes will be compromised regardless of age.
Diagnosis of Dry Eye Disease
Typically, dry eye disease can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam and a description of your symptoms. On some occasions the eye doctor might decide to do a test that measures how quickly your tears evaporate from the surface of your eye. By instilling a simple dye called fluorescein (much like food coloring) the doctor is able to watch and count how long it takes the tears to start to break up after they’ve asked you to hold your eyes open after a blink. This is called TBUT or a Tear Break Up Time test. A low TBUT generally indicates a lipid (aka oil) deficiency in the tears resulting from oil glands in the eyelids not functioning properly. In another type of test, called a Schirmer test, a strip of filter paper is placed under the lid of the eye and you will be asked to close your eye for five minutes. Following the test the amount of moisture on the strip will be measured. Schirmer tests are performed less frequently than a TBUT test.
Treatment for Dry Eyes
Depending on the complexity and type of dry eyes you have, our optometrists will find the best method of treatment for each particular case. Our goal is to restore your all day comfort, crisp vision , and overall eye health.
Call our office: 602-404-2005 to start your evaluation today.