By:  MDA Admin

Here is the scoop on a condition known as Dry Eye Syndrome.

On a windy day your eyes may feel like they are dry or irritated. Allergies and some medications can also cause your eyes to become irritated and have a feeling of dryness ( Dry Eye)..

If you notice that this discomfort never seems to disappear you could have a medical condition known as Dry Eye Syndrome. You should be seen by your eye care professional to evaluate your symptoms as they can range from mild to severe. If not treated it could actually damage the front surface of your eye and impair your vision. 

Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition in which the eyes either do not produce enough tears or the tears that they produce are not adequate to keep the eyes moist and able to function properly. Our tears are made up of three layers; oil, water and mucus which protects and nourishs the front surface of the eyes. With this condition you could experience dryness or irritation of the eyes, burning, redness, itching, tired eyes and changes in vision. During the winter, symptoms can intensify due to the low humidity and the heat on in your home, office and car.

As the population ages, we see more people with this condition. According to the American Optometric Association, most people over the age of 65 experience this condition to some degree.

Dry eye is more prevalent in women than men at an early age. The symptoms are more prevalent during menopause as hormones are shifting which has a drying effect on the body’s tissues in general. Those with previous eye surgery- especially cataract surgery, glaucoma or Lasik tend to be prone to dry eye. We have also found that people who use blood pressure medications, antihistamines, decongestants and antidepressants have complained about the drying out effect in their eyes.

There are several treatments available from over the counter medications to prescriptions which your eye care professional will discuss with you.

Please do not use redness reducing drops which can actually make the condition worse. You are looking for preservative free artificial tears solution. This is good for mild dry eye. For eyes that are constantly tearing but feeling dry, the doctor will prescribe a medicated eye drop. These drops have a longer lasting affect and will sometimes help the eyes produce better tears. Surgery could also be an option if there is abnormality in the surface of the eye, tear ducts or if the eye lid is deformed and does not cover the eye properly.

There is a new treatment which has been approved by the FDA called LipiFlow which is used when the oil glands become blocked in all four corners of the eyelids. This procedure is performed in the doctor’s office and applies controlled heat and pressure to the inner eyelid, allowing the natural oil to flow and protect the eyes from drying out.

Doctors are focusing more on preventative measures rather than taking a wait and see approach. They are identifying those that have dry eye earlier and intervening so it doesn’t progress to a severe situation.

Sources: MDA, Health Central, NIH