Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that affects as many as 10 million people in the United States. Symptoms include burning and an itchy or scratchy sensation, like having sand or grit in your eyes.
Many people with dry eye syndrome have intermittent blurry vision that temporarily improves with rapid blinking. There are many causes of dry eye syndrome, but in general, the condition occurs because your tears are either abnormal or they are evaporating from your eye’s surface too quickly.
Dry eye syndrome is often a nuisance, and in some cases, can lead to scarring of the eye’s surface with loss of vision.
There are several treatments available for dry eyes which range from simple lifestyle modifications to prescription medications depending on the severity of the condition.
Environment Changes – If you have mild dry eyes you may be able to improve your symptoms just by changing your environment. Sitting too close to a heating or air conditioning vent exposes the eye to a constant flow of forced air, which can make tears evaporate too quickly. Most heating systems dry out your home’s air even if you don’t sit too close to the vent. A humidifier can help put moisture back into the air. Cigarette smoke can also irritate and dry out the eye surface. Smoking cessation often improves symptoms.
Tear Replacements – If your eyes don’t produce enough tears or healthy tears, there are tear replacements available. Artificial tears can be found at most over the counter drugstores or grocery stores. If your symptoms are mild to moderate, putting artificial tears into your eyes two to four times daily often helps relieve symptoms.
Punctual Plugs –If you require artificial tears more than four times daily, you may benefit from punctual plugs. The punctum is the opening in the lower eyelid through which your tears drain away. Plugging the punctum makes your tears, or artificial tears, stay on the eye surface longer, which improves dry eye symptoms. Punctual plugs are quickly, easily, and painlessly inserted during an office visit, and provide significant relief for many dry eye sufferers. If for any reason you are unsatisfied with them, they can be removed as easily as they are inserted.
If you have dry eye symptoms our doctors at Eye Care & Surgery will be happy to work with you in designing a treatment plan.
For more information or to schedule an appointment please contact us.