What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is an eye disease in which tear film evaporation is high or tear production is low. It causes damage to the exposed eye surface and is associated with symptoms of ocular discomfort.
How Do You Know if You Have Dry Eyes?
Most clinicians diagnose and treat dry eye based on the symptoms alone. The symptoms can include:
- A stinging sensation in the eyes
- A burning sensation in the eyes
- Double vision
- Feeling of dryness in the eyes
- Feeling of grittiness and soreness in the eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Eye sensitivity to smoke
- Eye sensitivity to wind (eyes water more in the wind)
- Redness of the eyes
- Eye fatigue, especially after light reading
- Sensitivity to light
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
- Blurred vision – usually worse towards the end of the day
- Eyelids stick together when waking up
Certain tests can be performed to help determine if you have dry eye; however, it is not uncommon for a patient to have normal test results, but still have dry eye syndrome.
What are the treatments for Dry Eye?
Treatment of dry eyes can vary depending on the individual and their needs. Artificial tears can contain a preservative that can further irritate the eyes, so evaluation is necessary. Preservative-free artificial tears are available if you need to use eye drops frequently.
You may have seen commercials for Restasis, which is an eye drop requiring a doctor’s prescription and is specifically indicated for the treatment of dry eye. Restatis helps surface inflammation which can contribute to dry eyes and to improve the quality of the tear film.
In addition, this is currently the only product that helps patients produce more of their own natural tears. It usually takes several weeks to help relieve dry eye symptoms and you should not reduce your use of artificial tears during this period unless told to do so by your physician.
Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day can keep the body hydrated and help reduce dry eye syndrome. Frequent blinking, especially when working on computers, can also help.