Dry Eyes2020-12-09T18:10:49-05:00

Dry eye is a common condition associated with dryness and irritation

It’s important to treat dry eyes promptly to maintain eye health and prevent damage
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Dry eye disease is one of the most common eye conditions worldwide.

The name “dry eye” can be a little confusing since one of the most common symptoms is excessive watering. It makes more sense, though, when you learn that the eye makes two different types of tears.

The first type of tears, called lubricating tear, is produced slowly and steadily throughout the day. Lubricating tears contain a precise balance of mucous, water, oil, nutrient proteins, and antibodies that nourish and protect the front surface of the eye.

The second type of tear called a reflex tear, does not have much lubricating value. Reflex tears serve as a kind of emergency response to flood the eye when it is suddenly irritated or injured. Reflex tears might occur when you get something in your eye; when you’re cutting onions; when you’re around smoke; or when you accidentally scratch your eye. The reflex tears gush out in such large quantities that the tear drainage system can’t handle them all and they spill out onto your cheek. Still another cause of reflex tearing is irritation of the eye from lack of lubricating tears. If your eye is not producing enough lubricating tears, you have dry eye.

Symptoms of dry eyes

  • Watery eyes
  • The feeling that there’s sand in your eyes
  • Eyes that itch and burn
  • Vision that becomes blurred after periods of reading, watching TV, or using a computer
  • Red, irritated eyes that produce a mucus discharge

Causes of dry eyes

  • Age: As we get older, glands in the eyelid produce less oil. The oil keeps tears from evaporating off the eye. Decreased oil production allows tears to evaporate too quickly, leaving the eye too dry
  • Diseases including diabetes, Sjogren’s and Parkinson’s
  • Hormonal changes, especially after menopause
  • Prescription medications: These include some high blood pressure medications, antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, sleeping pills and pain medications. Over-the-counter medications, including some cold and allergy products, motion sickness remedies, and sleep aids, can also cause dry eyes. Eye drops for the treatment of glaucoma can also cause dry eye
  • Hot dry or windy conditions: High altitude, air-conditioning and smoke can also cause dry eyes
  • Certain activities: Reading, using a computer or watching TV
  • Contact lenses
  • Eye surgery: Some types of eye surgery and the postoperative eye drops used may temporarily interrupt the tear film and cause a limited form of dry eye
  • Inflammation: Recent research suggests that dry eyes may be caused by inflammation on the surface of the eye and the eyelids. Anti-inflammatory medications are often helpful in treating dry eye

Your eye doctor can check for dry eyes by examining your eyes with magnifying instruments, measuring your rate of tear production and checking the amount of time it takes for tears to evaporate between blinks. The doctor can also check for pinpoint scratches on the front surface of the eye caused by dryness using special, colored eye drops called fluorescein or Rose Bengal.

The most common treatment for dry eyes is the use of artificial teardrops that help make up for the lack of natural lubricating tears. Artificial tear products come in liquid form, longer-lasting gel form and long-lasting ointment form, which we commonly recommended for nighttime use. Many different brands of artificial tears are available over-the-counter. Some contain preservatives, and some do not. We may recommend unpreserved tears for people whose eyes are sensitive to preservatives or in patients who require very frequent use. You can generally use preserved artificial tears up to four times a day. In contrast, you can use non-preserved artificial tears as often as needed, from a few times per day to every few minutes. You should follow the regimen your doctor recommends.

When infection, inflammation of the eyelids or clogged oil glands contribute to dry eye, we may recommend a special lid cleaning technique (eyelid scrubs) or antibiotics. It may also help to avoid hot, dry or windy environments or to humidify the air in your home or office.

Anti-inflammatory eye drop medications commonly used to treat dry eye are Restasis and Xiidra. These medications decrease inflammation in the glands and allow more natural tear formation. You can use these two medications alone or in conjunction with over the counter artificial tears.

Punctal occlusion is another common way in which we can treat dry eyes. We can perform this treatment in the office by placing temporary collagen or long-lasting silicone plug into one of the tear duct drains. The tear duct drains tears away from the eye and into the nose. This is comparable to putting a stopper in a sink, allowing the natural tears on the eye nourish the eye longer.

Intense Pulsed Light is a dry eye treatment especially suited for patients whose dry eye is related to clogged oil glands.

My eye waters all the time. How can my eye be dry?

Tearing is one of the most common symptoms of dry eye. When the eye is irritated and dry, it produces reflex tears which wet the cornea but do not nourish it like our baseline tears do.

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My eyes feel dry, gritty and irritated

Whether you’re working on your laptop, driving to the shops or simply catching up with friends, dry eyes can be not only painful and a nuisance but can lead to more serious eye damage long term. Click here to learn more and protect your eyes…

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If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a worrying eye condition like open angle glaucoma, narrow angle glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration then you’ll want to see an expert as soon as possible. Click here to learn more about your eye condition and then book an appointment.

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Red, inflamed or gunky eyes can indicate an infection. Click here to relieve your eyes.

Another common concern we see mostly in children is strabismus (also called crossed eyes). Click here to find out why you need to address your child’s crossed or lazy eyes as soon as possible.

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Academic resources on dry eye

FOLLOW THE LINKS BELOW TO DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THIS TREATMENT FROM AUTHORITATIVE SOURCES

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic and typically progressive condition. Depending on its cause and severity, it may not be completely curable. But in most cases, dry eyes can be managed successfully, usually resulting in noticeably greater eye comfort, fewer dry eye symptoms, and sometimes sharper vision. Click here to read on.

Even when you’re happy, your eyes are full of tears. They provide moisture and lubrication to help you see and keep your peepers comfortable. Click here to read on.

Dry eye syndrome is caused by a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. Consequences of dry eyes range from subtle but constant eye irritation to significant inflammation and even scarring of the front surface of the eye. Click here to read on.

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Dr. Bennett Chotiner is the founder and medical director of Memorial Eye Institute. A noted innovator, in 1977 he established his clinical practice, the Pennsylvania Eye Associates. In 1984, he established the Pennsylvania Eye Surgery Center, Pennsylvania’s first …

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Erik Chotiner, M.D. diagnoses and treats a wide range of medical eye conditions. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Franklin and Marshall College. Dr. Chotiner attended Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia where he received multiple awards including the Physiology Prize for …

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