What are The Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?
If you think you may have dry eye syndrome, one surprising symptom is excessive watering of the eye. A natural response to dry eyes is increased tear production to lubricate and protect the sensitive surface of the eye from the environment. This means even though you may have a persistent dry eye condition you may be carrying tissues to mop up the extra tears that are flowing from your eyes.
Dry eye syndrome can also cause you to subconsciously avoid situations that cause the condition to act up and make you uncomfortable. You may be avoiding dry air conditioned environments, being outside on a windy day or experience burning of your eyes, watery eyes or frequent blinking when reading, watching television or working on the computer.
Dry Eye Symptoms can Include the Following:
- Stinging or Burning Eyes
- Stringy Mucus in or Around the Eyes
- Excessive Eye Irritation from Smoke or Wind
- Excess Tearing
- Discomfort When Wearing Contact Lenses
- Heavy Eyelids
- Eye Strain
- Tired Eyes
- Trouble Focusing
These symptoms may or may not be the result of dry eye syndrome but if they persist you should be checked by one of our experienced eye doctors at the Eye Centers of Florida. You can contact us at 239-939-3456 or request an appointment.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
To ensure eye health and good vision we naturally blink to spread a film of tears over our eyes. This makes the eye surface clear and smooth. To maintain good vision and eye health we need this film or tears.
There are eye conditions that interfere with the eye’s ability to produce the tears needed to keep the eye moist, clear and protected from the environment. This can lead to poor vision, make you uncomfortable and potentially compromise your vision.
The tear film consists of three layers:
- An oily layer
- A watery layer
- A mucus layer
The layers of the tear film each have an important function:
The oily layer makes up the outermost layer of the tear film, and is produced by the meibomain glands. This outer layer provides a smooth tear surface and helps to reduce the evaporation of our tears, helping the eye surface stay moist and well lubricated.
Our natural tears create the middle layer. Tears are produced by the lacrimal glands which are located in the eyelids. Our tears clean the eye and wash away irritants and foreign substances.
The mucus layer is closest to the eye and is produced by the conjunctiva.It provides the inner layer of protective eye fluid. The mucus allows the watery tear layer to disperse evenly over the surface of the eye and allows your tears to stick to the eyes and keep them moist.
Any disruption of the layers or the production of the component fluids can lead to discomfort and a decline in vision. In the majority of cases this condition can be treated in a variety of ways. There are a lot of treatment options your doctor can offer to help you feel more comfortable and to protect the long-term health of your eyes. The first step is to be evaluated by an eye care professional at the Eye Centers of Florida.
What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry Eye Syndrome is most commonly caused by a disruption in the secretion of fluids from the lacrimal gland (tears), meibomain (oil)and conjunctiva (mucus) gland. Disruptions in these secretions can be caused by problems with the eyes or they can be related to other health conditions that can impact your eyes.
Environmental factors such as excessive heat, dry air, wind, chemical vapors and smoke can play a key role in the pain and discomfort of dry eye syndrome. Avoiding these factors can provide relief from the condition.
Health conditions that affect the lacrimal gland (tears) or its ducts — including autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis — lead to decreased tear secretion and chronic dry eye.
Tear secretion also may be reduced by certain conditions that decrease corneal sensation. Diseases such as diabetes and herpes zoster are associated with decreased corneal sensation, including long-term contact lens wear and surgery that involves making incisions in or removing tissue from the cornea (such as LASIK).
Can Dry Eye Syndrome be Prevented?
Trying the following can prevent dry eye syndrome:
- Doing close work like working on the computer and reading can lead to diminished blinking that can make your dry eye condition worse. If you have having dry eye symptoms you should take regular breaks when doing close work.
- Avoid conditions that can aggravate or increase your dry eye symptoms like wind, smoke, chemical vapors, dry heat, hair dryers and air conditioning.
- Using a humidifier indoors can be very helpful.
- If you can’t avoid environments that aggravate your dry eye condition protect your eyes by using swimming or ski goggles, wrap-around glasses or other protective eyewear to help your eyes stay moist.
- Artificial tears purchased over-the-counter at the pharmacy can provide temporary relief.
- Use re-wetting drops if you are a contact lens wearer. Also, see your doctor at Eye Centers of Florida for contact lenses that are approved for dry eye syndrome.
Pay particular attention to these precautions if you have a medical condition or take a medication that is associated with dry eye syndrome. Sometimes, changing your medication may help, though this should be done only under your doctor’s supervision.
Dry Eye Syndrome Treatment Begins with an Evaluation
If you’re not sure you have dry eye syndrome visit our dry eye symptoms page (link to dry eye syndrome symptoms page) to see if you are experiencing the common issues related to the problem.
Treatment of dry eye syndrome can take many forms, some, very simple and effective. Others require the careful attention of a qualified ophthalmologist. The first step in getting help is to be evaluated by an eye care professional.
You can expect a thorough examination of your eyes and an assessment of your general health to determine the root cause of your symptoms and the best solution for your dry eye problem. Being a medical issue, the exam and treatments are generally covered by insurance. Eye Centers of Florida can help you make this determination if you need assistance.
The following is a general list of the treatments that may be recommended by your doctor. Our goal is to provide the very best medical attention that will help you return to normal activity, have full vision and comfort. We value our patient relationships and work hard to give you the best possible care and results.
How is Dry Eye Syndrome Treated?
Your doctor may prescribe eye drops containing artificial tears you can use as needed to supplement your own natural tear production. Artificial tears provide the moisture and lubrication needed to protect your eyes and relieve the discomfort you may be experiencing. Artificial tears are available over-the-counter.You can use the artificial tears as often as necessary — once or twice a day or as often as several times an hour.
If you have not seen a doctor and this condition persists you should be evaluated by a qualified eye physician.
There are times when over-the-counter eye drops are not effective due to the underlying cause of the dry eye syndrome. In this case medication may be required to solve the problem. In this case the most common treatment is prescription eye drops.
Typically after being evaluated by your eye care professional prescription eye drops like Restasis® are prescribed. Prescription eye drops can contain a variety of medicines including steroids that are effective in treating your condition. Your doctor will monitor your condition to be sure the medication is effective in solving the problem.
Conserving Your Tears
Conserving your tears is also a common treatment used to help the eyes retain the moisture needed. Our eyes have small channels that drain excess moisture from the eyes and into the nose. Your eye doctor can close these channels temporarily or permanently to prevent or slow the drainage of needed moisture and tears from the eyes. This helps your naturally produced tears and eye drops last longer and be more effective.
This is a simple procedure done in the office with minimal discomfort experienced by the patient.
A temporary method of closing the channels may involve the use of punctal plugs. The plugs are inserted into the punctum (tear duct) and work much like a dam by blocking your eye’s drainage system. Your doctor may also choose to permanently close your tear ducts by using heat to seal the punctum closed.
Sometimes a simple solution can be very effective in treating your dry eyes. Anything you can do to prevent or slow the evaporation of liquid from your eyes can be helpful. We suggest wearing wraparound glasses to limit the drying effect of the wind. Also, avoiding dry environments like overly warm rooms, fans and smokers can be effective.
When is The Right Time for Dry Eye Syndrome to be Treated?
Call your doctor if your dry eye symptoms last more than a few days. Consult a doctor before beginning treatment with over-the-counter artificial tears.
What Can I Expect from Dry Eye Syndrome Treatment?
Dry eye syndrome is a progressive disease that may get worse without early treatment. The longer you wait, the more difficult the condition will be to treat. Whether it is prescription drops, supplements, punctal occlusion or just artificial tears, it is necessary for an eye doctor to evaluate you to make sure that your eyes are improving, as dry eye syndrome can become debilitating if not properly treated.
What’s Next? Get a Dry Eye Syndrome Evaluation
If you feel that you suffer from the symptoms described and suspect you’re suffering from chronic dry eye or dry eye syndrome, contact a professional to have a dry eye syndrome evaluation performed.
Why Choose Eye Centers of Florida for Your Evaluation?
At Eye Centers of Florida, we have a complement of highly qualified doctors available to offer you world-class treatment for eye conditions. We are proud of our long history of service and on having built lifelong relationships with our patients.
Our state-of-the-art facilities are fully equipped to meet the needs of all our patients. Request an appointment today!