Spectrum Family Eye Care

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What causes Dry Eye Syndrome

There are many causes of dry eyes, but the end result is the same; Either the eyes are not making enough of tears to adequately moisturize and lubricate, or the tears that are being made are of poor quality causing them to evaporate off of the eyes very quickly. both scenarios will result in feeling of dryness. Such causes can be hormonal as with women in menopause or on birth control. People with autoimmune diseases are commonly affected as well. Tear production decreases with age, so it is very typical to experience dryness symptoms as we get older.

Who is at risk for dry eyes?

  • Post menopausal women
  • Women using birth control pills.
  • Patients with Rosacea or blepharitis.
  • Patients with collagen vascular disease, e.g. Sjogrens, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, or other autoimmune disorders.
  • Patients with diabetes.
  • Patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Patients with disorders of the eyelids.
  • Many types of medications can cause dry eyes, e.g. diuretics (“water pills”), antidepressants, and decongestants to name a few.
  • Prolonged reading, cell phone or computer work.
  • Dry environment (condominium living, and office areas).
  • Contact lens wearers

What are some symptoms of DES?

Excessive tearing – When the eyes become dry they begin to burn. The irritation causes the large tear gland under the lid to respond by producing large amounts of tears onto the surface of the eye. The tearing is in response to irritation and dryness, but unfortunately does not lubricate the eye effectively and can be bothersome with tears running down the cheeks.

  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Foreign body sensation – sandy/gravely feeling, feels like there is an eyelash in the eye.
  • Tenderness/soreness under the upper lid or around the eye.
  • Intermittent blurred vision, that briefly improves with blinking.
  • Excess mucous in the corners of the eyes and on the lids in the morning.
  • Blurred vision in the morning for 1-2 hours.
  • Increased glare at night.

What are the treatments for DES?

The primary treatment for dry eyes is the use of artificial tears. Artificial tears must be used at a minimum of 4-6 times per day to feel any relief. Tear drops may be used as frequently as necessary even every half hour when reading or using a computer. You cannot over use artificial tears, they are over-the-counter and very safe. We NEVER recommend the use of visine, murine, or generic brands, as these are not ideal tear preparations. Recommended brands include:

  • Systane Lubricating Drops
  • Liposic
  • Genteal – (mild or moderate)
  • Refresh

If these brands irritate the eyes there are also many forms of preservative free tears. Ask us if preservative free artificial tears are right for you.

Punctal occlusion – There are tear drainage areas called puncta on both the upper and lower eye lids. Blocking off the drain (or puncta) at the lower lid can increase the duration that one’s own tears or tear supplements (artificial tears) remain on the eye. The drain can be closed temporarily by inserting a plug into the puncta. Plugs can be temporary (collagen and dissolves after three months) or permanent (silicone and does not dissolve).

Restasis – This is the only available prescription medication for dry eyes on the market. It has been shown to reduce the symptoms of dry eye by reducing inflammation on the eye. It has also been shown in some patients to increase the body’s own production of tears. Studies show that it can take upwards of three months to see any benefit from Restasis. If it has not produced a positive response in this time frame, it is usually stopped.

If you or someone you know suffer from these symptoms you may have dry eye syndrome. If you live in or around the Hamilton or BurlingtonĀ  area please feel free to contact our office and schedule an eye exam with one of our doctors. We are open seven days a week and will gladly answer any of your questions and provide you with the best treatment options available to you.

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