People usually begin experiencing symptoms as they age, but the condition can also result from certain medications, conditions or injuries. This condition tends to affect women more often than men, as the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy, menopause and from using oral contraceptives can affect the consistency of tears. It is also more common in people over the age of 50. Other causes may include:
- Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants
- Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, lupus, ocular rosacea, Sjogren’s syndrome or thyroid problems
- Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind and dry climates
- Long-term contact lens use
- Refractive surgery
Recent studies have shown that this syndrome is more prevalent in larger cities, and higher among office computer users. It is estimated that 48% of adult Americans regularly experience symptoms, which includes difficulty in reading.
Our natural tears require a certain chemical balance in order to efficiently moisturize the eyes. Tears consist of three essential components, each produced by a different gland:
- The outer, oily lipid component – produced by meibomian glands in the eyelids
- The middle, watery, lacrimal component – produced by lacrimal glands located above the outer corner of the eyes
- The innermost component, consisting of mucous or mucin – produced by goblet cells in the conjunctiva
- Each component serves a critical purpose. Tear lipids, for example, prevent evaporation and increase lubrication, while mucins help anchor the tears to the ocular surface. A problem with any of those sources can result in tear instability, the frequency or consistency of tears, and dry eyes.
Based on the most recent research, contact lens wear can contribute to Dry Eyes. This syndrome can make your contact lenses feel uncomfortable, and evaporation of moisture from contact lenses worsens the symptoms. At Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute, we can recommend newer contact lens materials and lens care products to help reduce contact lens dryness.
Dry Eye is not only painful; it can also damage the eye’s tissues and impair vision. Fortunately, at Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute, we have many treatment options available to help relieve symptoms and restore health back to your eyes to ensure clear vision and long-term health.
One of our specialists will recommend treatment depending on the cause and severity of your condition, as well as your overall health and personal preference. At Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute, we have had success from non-surgical treatments, increasing humidity at home or work, and use of artificial tears or moisturizing ointment. Prescription eye drops are also available to increase tear production by helping your body reduce inflammation.
Treating the underlying cause of Dry Eyes can also help relieve the symptoms. If these methods don’t produce the desired results, we have other surgical options.
The M22 Optima™ IPL is a great treatment option that uses light to break up the hardened oils that are preventing necessary tears from being produced.
The most recent dry eye treatment with our team is the Systane® iLux® MGD Treatment System. The iLUX® Device is used to heat and compress glands in the eyelids of adult patients with a specific type of dry eye, called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), also known as evaporative dry eye.
There are certain steps you can take to prevent symptoms, which are especially useful for those at an increased risk. Simple life modifications such as keeping a humidifier at home or at work, wearing glasses on windy days, giving your eyes a break during reading or other strenuous tasks and avoiding smoking can all effectively reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.
We also sometimes recommend special nutritional supplements for Dry Eyes, as studies have found that supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can decrease symptoms, as well as flaxseed oil. Drinking more water can help, too, as mild dehydration often makes problems worse. This is especially true during hot, dry and windy weather.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, let one of the specialists at Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute give you a complete vision checkup for this common condition.