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Dry Eye Syndrome

untitledWhat Is Chronic Dry Eye?

Chronic dry eye is a medical condition that needs continuous therapy, it occurs when eyes do not produce the right amount or quality of tears due to inflammation.

Tears bathe the eye, washing out dust and debris and keeping the eye moist. They also contain enzymes that neutralize the microorganisms that colonize the eye. Tears are essential for good eye health. In dry eye syndrome, the lacrimal gland or associated glands near the eye don’t produce enough tears, or the tears have a chemical composition that causes them to evaporate too quickly. Chronic dry eye if often caused by hormonal changes due to aging and menopause,¬†contact lens wear, certain medications, can be worsten by environmental conditions, eye deseses¬†and other medical conditions.

How do I know if I have dry eye sindrom?

If your eyes are dry or if you have symptoms such as blurred vision, itchiness and sensitivity to light, or if you have been using over-the-counter eye drops three or more times a day with little success, you may have chronic dry eye. Another symptom of dry eyes is a “foreign body sensation,” the feeling that something is in the eye. And it may sound odd, but dry eye syndrome can cause watery eyes. This is because dryness on the eye’s surface sometimes will over stimulate production of the watery component of your tears as a protective mechanism. Using artificial tears can help moisten the eyes and may provide short-term relief, but they cannot help increase tear production in cases where it may be caused by inflammation due to chronic dry eye.

How can dry eye be treated?

Treatment is based on disease severity and an evaluation of the cause of the disease. Dry eye syndrome is an ongoing condition that may not be completely curable (depending on the cause). But the accompanying dryness, scratchiness and burning can be managed. Your eye care practitioner may prescribe artificial tears, which are lubricating eye drops that may alleviate the dry, scratchy feeling.

Using artificial tears can help moisten the eyes and may provide short-term relief, but they cannot help increase tear production in cases where it may be caused by inflammation due to chronic dry eye.

Temporary or permanent silicone plugs can be inserted in the lacrimal (tear) drainage ducts in your eyelids to keep tears on your eye from draining away as quickly. Called lacrimal plugs or punctal plugs, they can be inserted painlessly while you’re in the eye doctor’s office and normally are not felt once inserted.

Another new kind of punctal plug is made of a hydrogel that expands into a soft, pliable gel in the tear drainage canal. It has no cap, and should it need to be removed, the eye care practitioner can simply flush it out with saline solution.

With some people, however, punctal plugs aren’t effective enough, so their tear ducts need to be closed surgically (punctal cautery).

Another option for dry eye treatment is called Lacrisert, a tiny insert filled with a lubricating ingredient (hydroxypropyl cellulose). The insert is placed just inside the lower eyelid, where it continuously releases lubrication for the eye throughout the day.

If you wear contact lenses, be aware that many eye drops, especially artificial tears, cannot be used while your contacts are in your eyes. You’ll need to remove them before using drops and wait 15 minutes or even longer (check the label) before reinserting the lenses.

If the problem is environmental, wear sunglasses when outdoors to reduce exposure to sun, wind and dust. You may want to try the kind that has a foam or other seal at the sides and/or a close-fitting, wrap-style frame to keep wind and dust from getting behind the lenses and in your eyes.

Good sources of omega-3s include cold-water fish, such as sardines, cod, herring and salmon. Some eye doctors also recommend flaxseed oil to relieve dry eye.

Drinking more water can help, too. Mild dehydration often makes dry eye problems worse. This is especially true during hot, dry and windy weather. Simply drinking more water sometimes reduces the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

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