“Dry eye syndrome (DES) is an increasing issue for people in the United States and a common complaint that we hear from many of our patients. You may have dry eye syndrome if you are routinely experiencing any of the following symptoms in your eyes:
- Dry, scratchy, or filmy feelings
- Burning or itching
- Blurred vision
- A feeling of having a foreign body in your eyes
- Light sensitivity
What causes DES?
A tear film that consists of three layers – mucus, diluted saltwater solution and lipids (fats and oils) – coats your eyes and keeps them comfortable. When your eyes fail to produce these layers, it can result in a disorder of the tear film – dry eye syndrome – causing dryness and irritation in the eyes. DES is a common disorder resulting from decreased tear production, excessive tear evaporation, or abnormality in the production of mucus or lipids in the tear film.
Several different factors can cause dry eye syndrome. Some of these factors include:
- Medications – antidepressants, antihistamines, or oral contraceptives can decrease tear production in your eyes, leading to DES
- Age – more common in people over 65
- Activities that require a lot of attention – these activities include watching TV, reading a book, or working on a computer
- You are more likely to prolong blinking during these activities, causing a reduction in your eyes’ ability to produce tears
How is DES treated?
Treatment options for dry eye syndrome vary between patients and depend on the severity of DES. Many conditions can be treated by the use of over-the-counter eye drops, like artificial tears. You may also be prescribed medications to help treat your condition.
Another way to keep your eyes moist is by conserving your own tears. Tears drain out of the eye through a small channel into your nose. Your eye doctor may close these channels on a temporary or permanent basis. The closure conserves your own tears and makes artificial tears last longer.
If you think you may have dry eye syndrome, consult your doctor. They’ll help you decide what treatment is best for your eyes. For more information on dry eye syndrome, call Illinois Eye Center at (309) 243-2400 or visit our website at www.illinoiseyecenter.com. We’ll help you decide the next steps to take, and get your eyes some much needed relief.” – Dr. Edward Hu, comprehensive ophthalmologist