Dry eye syndrome is common among most adults and can get in the way of work or even leisure time with your family and friends. If left untreated, dry eye can lead to serious vision problems. Take the appropriate steps to maintain healthy eyes by alleviating discomfort from dryness.
Dr. Jacob West specializes in diagnosing the underlying causes of dry eye syndrome through a comprehensive eye examination conducted in-office at West Vision Care.
Who's at risk?
Millions of adults each year suffer from dry eye syndrome. If you are older than 50, you may be at risk for developing chronic dry eye. Women are especially at high risk for dry eye syndrome while menstruating, going through menopause, going through pregnancy, or using birth control pills.
Traveling on an airplane, riding a bike, wearing contact lenses, and staring at digital monitors for too long are also just a few contributing factors to dry eye.
Symptoms of dry eye
Besides the obvious symptom of your eyes feeling dry, other red flags may include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Mucus in and around the affected area
Persistent dryness of your eyes can lead to more severe complications such as eye infections, inflammation, and vision problems. If symptoms persist, they further irritate the eye and can cause corneal abrasions that could result in permanent vision loss.
What causes dry eye syndrome?
Our tears are like secret agents for the body, fighting off irritants from the environment. Tears are composed of mucus, water, fatty oils, and various, complex protein structures that shield the surface of your eyes. Dry eye occurs when these glands have trouble producing basal tears or when the composition of the tears changes the health of the eye.
Decreased tear production results in insufficient lubrication of the eye. This condition is known medically as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Increased tear evaporation, another condition that results in glandular dysfunction, is provoked by dry air, smoke, and blinking infrequently.
Those suffering from medical conditions like arthritis, lupus, and diabetes are most at risk for these conditions. If you're taking certain medications like antidepressants, decongestants, or antihistamines, you might also experience glandular tear damage. Harsh seasonal allergies and inflammatory skin diseases like rosacea and blepharitis also subject tear glands to damage over time.
Diagnosing dry eye and what to expect
Testing for dry eye typically includes an evaluation of the eyelid and cornea, and the use of special dyes to observe changes in the outer eye. Dr. West also measures tear production to look for potentially harmful inconsistencies.
Your medical history and general health concerns can help determine the underlying cause of insufficient tear production. With this information, Dr. West will appropriately diagnose and treat dry eye accordingly.
Some temporary treatment options that might alleviate painful symptoms include:
- Adding moisture to indoor air via a humidifier
- Wearing sunglasses
- Positioning an electronic screen in a manner that minimizes strain on your eyes
- Refraining from smoking
- Giving your eyes regular breaks
- Lubricating regularly with eyedrops
- Taking omega-3 as a nutritional supplement
If you think that you might benefit from further diagnosis and treatment, consult with Dr. West about your options.
For more severe cases
Prescription medications such as cyclosporine and lifitegrast can temporarily reduce eye inflammation. FDA-approved devices may also provide relief by stimulating tear production.
If your condition has advanced beyond standard treatment options, Dr. West may recommend trying punctal plugs. These silicone plugs block the tear ducts and prevent tears from draining out of the eye, thus keeping natural tears available for longer. More severe cases may require a permanent, surgical closure of the ducts.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from dry eye syndrome, don't wait any longer. Click the "book online" option to schedule your appointment or call our office today.