Do spending long periods of time on the computer cause your eyes to feel blurry or tired? Are your contact lenses causing irritation and itchiness? Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common conditions diagnosed by eye care professionals. While there are various causes of dry eye syndrome, the most common culprit is too little tear fluid on the surface of the eye. The result is eye irritation, burning, foreign body sensation or a gritty feeling, eye redness, blurry vision and tearing.
What causes dry eyes?
Tear production decreases naturally as a result of aging. Sometimes, contact lenses can absorb a significant amount of tear fluid resulting in dryness. Dry eyes may also be caused by poor composition of tear film. The tear film is made up of three layers: lipid oils from the meibomian glands in the eyelid, water from the lacrimal gland, and mucous from the conjunctiva. When one or more of these layers falls out of balance, the tear film becomes unstable with a resultant increase in evaporation of tear fluid from the eye.
In this video, a normal ocular surface is shown first under a cobalt blue light during an eye exam. The surface is smooth and there are no irregularities in the tear film during blinking. In typical dry eye patients shown in several examples in this video, the ocular surface shows small dry spots (tiny green-stained dots) and an irregular tear film (tear layer breaks up after blink) without sufficient oils due to clogged meibomian glands from blepharitis.
How are dry eye symptoms treated?
Supplemental lubrication in the form of artificial tears, gels and ointments is the first line of therapy for dry eye syndrome. Restasis is a prescription eye drop that has been shown to increase natural tear production and decrease inflammation. Topical lubricants can be used as frequently as needed, even hourly.
When eyes are extremely dry, punctal plugs can be placed into the eyelids. These small silicone plugs are easily and painlessly placed and help limit the outflow of tears into the nose. This procedure is not considered surgery, because the anatomy of the eyelids is not altered. It is completely reversible and is performed in the office under topical anesthesia.
This video shows insertion and removal of a punctual plug. This is done easily during your office appointment.
Eyelid disease can also cause dry eye symptoms
Blepharitis interferes with the oily layer of tear film. Clogged meibomian glands at the eyelid margin and crusting at the base of the eyelashes also contribute to dry eye syndrome. Hot compresses are the mainstay of blepharitis treatment.
The physicians at University Eye Specialists are experts at diagnosing the causes of dry eye syndrome and offer all of the latest treatments available.Back to top