By: Dr. Kelly Boucher, OD, FAAO
“Doc, my eyes are constantly watering.” This is a complaint heard often and this may actually be a symptom of dry eye syndrome. The number of people with dry eyes is increasing, especially with the use of computer screens and electronic devices. Here’s some things you should know.
What is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eye does not have quality tears to provide ample lubrication for the eye. Tears not only help nourish the eye, but also prevent infections, and aid in providing clear vision. Dryness can occur from tears evaporating from the surface too quickly or from the eye being unable to produce adequate tears.
What are the symptoms?
- People with dry eyes can experience a broad range of symptoms, including:
- Sandy, gritty or scratchy sensation
- Stinging and burning
- Watery eyes
- Blurry vision
What can cause dry eyes?
- Age: this is part of the natural aging of our eyes
- Gender: due to hormonal changes women are more likely to be affected
- Medications: many medications can alter tear production, including prescribed and over the counter
- Medical conditions: autoimmune disorders, arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems can worsen dry eyes
- Environmental conditions: such as computer screen use, as well as smoky, windy, and dry conditions
- External factors: previous eye surgeries or contact lens wear can contribute to dry eyes
How is dry eye syndrome diagnosed?
Dry eyes can be diagnosed through routine eye exams. A doctor will assess your symptoms, the severity of your symptoms, as well as evaluate the tear quality and quantity on the surface of your eyes. Additionally, the doctor will look at the eyelids and cornea and may use dyes to assess the tear flow to aid in determining the cause of dryness.
How is this treated?
Treatment for dry eyes can vary and is patient dependent. Talk to your eye care provider for best results. Examples of treatments can include:
- Environmental and lifestyle modifications
- Artificial tears
- Warm compresses
- Vitamin supplements
- Prescription eye drops and nasal sprays
- In office based therapies
- Punctal plug insertion
- Intense Pulse Light (IPL)
At Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, we are here to help with your dry eye needs and have expanded to include some of these in office treatments for patients. Call Optometry today to schedule your evaluation at (405) 948-4900 ext. 390.