People who suffer from dry eye syndrome complain of constant burning or stinging in their eyes. They may not have problems with tearing up at life’s emotional moments, but day to day, people with dry eye syndrome have difficulties with moisture in the eyes. Almost 12 million Americans suffer from this condition. The most common symptoms include pain from eye irritation, a sandy or gritty sensation, decreased tolerance to contact lenses, and sensitivity to light. In early stages, the symptoms may seem to appear and disappear, but generally worsen as the day progresses.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
The surface of your eye is covered with a tear film layer that functions as a moisture barrier, protecting the eye from airborne debris and chemicals by flushing these contaminants from the eye. This layer is refreshed each time you blink. If your tear film is functioning irregularly then you are without its protection which may lead to problems such as blurred vision, irritation or scratchy sensations, burning, redness, intermittent tearing, and light sensitivity.
There are many things that can lead to dry eye syndrome, including environmental conditions, eyelid disorders, systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and sarcoid, increasing age, some medications and nutritional deficiencies. There are many causes of dry eyes. Aging is certainly a factor; as people age, they secrete fewer tears, leading to dryness. Hormone depletion undoubtedly plays a role, as dry eyes are also more common in women than men, especially post-menopausal women. The tear film is made up of three layers: the lipid layer- thin and oily, the aqueous layer providing oxygen and nutrients, and the inner most layer which coats the eye with a substance called mucin that enables tears to stick to the eye’s surface.
Dry Eye Treatments
Dry eye has no definitive cure, but the symptoms can be treated. Treatments include artificial tear eye drops, Punctal plugs, Restasis, Omega-3 Herbal Supplements, and Lipiflow, all of which can bring relief to dry eyes.