If you have ever heard of the term dry eyes, you may just think that it was being used to describe a feeling or symptom. However, there is every chance that the person using the expression was actually referring to an ocular condition. Dry eyes, or dry eye syndrome, is a very real problem that affects countless Americans at some point during their lifetime. Fortunately, it is an issue that can be resolved with the support of our experienced optometrist, Dr. Nyguyen, and our optical care team based at our offices in Cypress, TX.
Protecting and lubricating the eyes
Reducing the risk of eye infection
Washing away foreign particles
Keeping the surface of the eyes smooth and clear
Although many people think tear film is only water, it is actually a complex combination of substances including oils and proteins.
Dry eyes or dry eye syndrome refers to a condition whereby the eyes either do not make enough tear film to keep them sufficiently lubricated, or the tear film evaporates too rapidly. This can lead to a range of different symptoms that although are not serious, can have a significant impact on your day to day life.
It is not always known exactly what causes dry eyes. Often, if the condition is only temporary and resolves itself within a day or two it is due to not blinking regularly enough. This is something that happens when we spend a great deal of time looking at a screen, such as that on a laptop or smartphone. However, some people suffer from chronic dry eye syndrome. There are certain factors that make this more likely including:
Getting older. The natural function of the lacrimal gland slows with age, and dry eyes are more common in patients over the age of 50.
Wearing contact lenses.
Spending a lot of time in air-conditioned or heated environments.
Spending time in a windy, dry or dusty location.
Certain medical conditions such as lupus or Sjögren’s syndrome.
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
Taking medications for certain conditions including some medications for depression and high blood pressure
In addition to the symptom from which the condition takes its name, other indicators of dry eyes include:
Eyes that seem itchy
A gritty feeling in the eyes, or like there is a foreign substance trapped in them
Redness of the eyes
Sensitivity to light
Eyes that water more than normal
Fortunately, dry eyes can normally be treated fairly easily. Prescription eye drops for artificial tears are the most common treatment and are usually recommended first. How often these will need to be applied will depend on the severity of your symptoms and Dr. Nguyen will let you know when and how often you should be using them.
If eye drops are unsuccessful, there are several other topical treatments that can help, including gels and ointments. These are applied to the inside of the eye and help to stimulate the production of natural tear film as well as lubricate the eyes. However, some patients find that these products cause blurred vision and so they are limited as to when they can use them.
Although most cases of dry eyes can be treated without any more serious intervention, severe instances of the condition may require