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Dry Eye

Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when your eyes do not make enough tears to keep them lubricated or your tears are of a poor quality. This is also called dry eye syndrome. The condition is chronic but can be managed successfully.

The tear layer is important for your eye health. Tears keep the surface of the eyes moist while washing away dust, dirt, and germs that can cause eye infection.

Although dry eye occurs among people of all ages, it is most prevalent among those aged 65 and older. The condition is also more likely to affect women.

However, our eye doctors have been seeing many men and women of younger ages in our clinic with dry eye symptoms, usually resulting from reading bright computer screens and tablets.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

This frustrating condition can make day-to-day activities like driving, reading, and even watching TV difficult. People with dry eyes may experience symptoms such as:

  • Itchy, burning, or stinging eyes
  • Feeling like there is something in your eye
  • Heavy or fatigued eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Excess tearing
  • Sensitivity to light

Severe cases of dry eye may cause damage to the front surface of the eye and impair vision. Dry eye can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination, evaluating the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eye.

Factors Contributing to Dry Eye

  • Age: The risk of dry eye increases with age.
  • Medications: A variety of medications, including blood pressure medications, antihistamines, and psychiatric medications, can impact the ability to produce tears.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid problems can cause dry eye.
  • Environmental Conditions: Factors such as smoke in the air or the weather – usually windy conditions or low humidity (dry air) – tend to promote dry eye.

Diagnosing Dry Eye

If you have any symptoms of dry eye, you should have a comprehensive eye examination. Your ophthalmologist will evaluate the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes to detect any abnormalities.

Tears are made up of three components: oil, water, and mucus, each of which serves an important purpose.

The oily outer layer helps prevent the watery middle layer from evaporating, while the inner layer of mucus spreads the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. 

Deficiencies in any of the three layers can cause tears to evaporate too quickly or to spread unevenly over the cornea, leading to dry eye.

Treating Dry Eye

The key to successfully treating dry eye is to identify any underlying causes or contributing factors and treat them directly. 

Some people may be able to find relief using over-the-counter artificial tears. Others may require a prescription eye drop such as Restasis® or Xiidra®, which not only lubricates the eye but also reduces inflammation and stimulates tear production.

Other treatments may include steroid eye drops, which may help decrease inflammation; warm compresses or lid massage, which may help open clogged oil glands; and omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show increase tear layer health.

With the information obtained from testing, the ophthalmologists at Jaffe Eye Institute can determine if you have dry eyes and advise you on treatment options. Contact us today or request an appointment online for prompt care. We can be reached at (305) 945-7433 in Aventura or (561) 499-0232 in Delray Beach, Florida.

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