Dry Eyes

What is dry eye?

Be Eye Wise and understand that dry eye is not normal. Instead, it’s a painful condition that impacts the health of your eyes. Dry eye occurs when the eye no longer creates adequate tears, specifically the water within the tear film. The medical term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca (ker-uh-toe-kun-junk-tih-VY-tis SIK-uh).

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes are due to insufficient moisture on your eyes resulting from inadequate quality or quantity of tears. If the eyes are not lubricated enough, either by low quantity or poor quality of tears, it causes discomfort and leads to your eyes being irritated and not protected.

Low-quantity of tears:
The decreased quantity of tears is a result of aging, hormones, some medical conditions, certain medications, eye surgery, and damage to the tear gland, just to name a few.

Poor quality tears:
Your tear film consists of three basic layers: fatty oils, water, and mucus. These tear film layers keep the surface of your eyes clear, smooth and protected. Problems with any of these layers can produce poor-quality tears, which allow dry spots to form on your eye, leading to irritation.

Typical causes of inadequate tears:

  • Aging
  • Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disorders and vitamin A deficiency
  • Certain medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and drugs for high blood pressure, acne, birth control, and Parkinson’s disease
  • Laser eye surgery, though symptoms of dry eye related to this procedure are usually temporary
  • Tear gland damage from inflammation or radiation

Typical causes of increased tear evaporation:

  • Wind, smoke or dry air
  • Blinking less often, which tends to occur when you’re concentrating, for example, or while reading, driving or working at a computer
  • Eyelid problems, such as out-turning of the lids (ectropion) and in-turning of the lids (entropion)

Typical causes of imbalance in tear composition:
The most common imbalance occurs when the tears don’t have enough oil composition because of blocked oil glands near the base of the eyelashes. This is the most common cause of Blepharitis.

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. It commonly occurs when tiny oil glands near the base of the eyelashes become clogged which, as a result, leads to irritated and red eyes.

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Dry eye is a very common occurrence with aging, but time is not the only factor that causes dry eye or inadequate tears. Understanding the root cause is a major aspect of a dry eye diagnosis. That’s why Northwest Eye has opened the Dry Eye & Blepharitis Center to provide patients with the tools, time and treatment to properly diagnose and relieve their dry eye symptoms.

No one needs to live with the pain and discomfort of dry eyes. There are numerous dry eye treatment options available to you. To learn all you can about dry eye, please schedule an appointment with a Northwest Eye Clinic doctor. Because the more you know, the better you see.

Many dry eye symptoms are obvious, such as extreme dryness in your eye. But other symptoms are anything but obvious, like excessive eye moisture. Yes, too much moisture is also a sign of dry eye. Before assuming you know what dry eye is and isn’t, review the list of Dry Eye symptoms below.

SYMPTOMS OF DRY EYES

  • Stinging or burning eyes.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Eye redness.
  • The sensation of having something in your eye.
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses.
  • Difficulty with nighttime driving.
  • Excessive watery eyes.
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue.

Diagnosing Dry Eyes

There are many varieties of dry eye. To make matters even more confusing, there are many conditions that have similar symptoms to dry eye, yet different conditions altogether. The only way to properly diagnose and treat dry eyes is through careful testing. The Dry Eye & Blepharitis Center at Northwest Eye will take you through a thorough evaluation to provide a specific diagnosis and treatment plan that will best suit your needs.

The Northwest Eye Dry Eye & Blepharitis Center diagnostics tests include:

  • LipiView® – captures live images of the tear film and measures lipid content and quality. The test quantifies the lipid to help determine the best treatment.
  • Tear Osmolarity – measures the salt concentration of your tears to understand the stability of the tear film.
  • RPS InflammaDry – measures the level of MMP-9 in your tears to determine levels of inflammation present.
  • Other tests as needed

Dry eyes are a very painful and debilitating condition to live with. Proper diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes is too important for drug-store trial and error. Be eye wise and schedule an appointment at the dry eyes and blepharitis center at Northwest Eye to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Because the more you know, the better you see.

The most common method for treating dry eye is the use of artificial tears and eye drops. Many people with dry eye also attempt to avoid certain situations, like overly warm rooms, hair dryers or wind. But for many people who suffer from dry eye, these options are not enough.

After undergoing a full diagnostic dry eye consultation at Northwest Eye’s Dry Eye Center our doctors will fully understand the cause of your dry eye and/or Blepharitis and will be able to recommend the treatment option(s) that are best for you.

Treatment options available at the Dry Eye and Blepharitis Clinic at Northwest Eye include:

  • Lipiflow: A clinical procedure that opens and clears blocked glands allowing the body to resume the natural production of oils (lipids) needed for the tear film.
  • BlephEx®: A device used to reduce scurf and bacterial debris, the main causes of inflammatory lid disease which can result in dry eyes.
  • Artificial Tears: Lubricant eye drops used to treat the dryness and irritation associated with deficient tear production in keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye).
  • Restasis: Eye drop that increases your eye’s natural ability to produce tears, which may be reduced by inflammation due to Chronic Dry Eye disease.
  • Pred Healon: A steroid used to alleviate inflammation and resulting in dry eyes.
  • Punctal plugs/Cautery: Small medical device that is inserted into the tear duct (punctal) of an eye to block the duct. This prevents the drainage of liquid from the eye. Artificial tears are usually still required after punctal plug insertion.
  • ALPO: The use of an argon laser to achieve tear duct (punctal) closure.
  • Topical Steroids: An anti-inflammatory therapy that inhibits inflammation thus reducing the signs and symptoms of dry eyes
  • Eye compression masks: Moist heat compress that relieves dry eyes.
  • Vitamins: The prescribed use of supplements or dietary sources (such as tuna fish) of omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA and EPA) that may help decrease symptoms or irritation.

Proper diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes are too important for drug-store trial and error. Be Eye Wise and schedule an appointment with the Dry Eye & Blepharitis Center at Northwest Eye. Because the more you know, the better you see.