Dry Eye, also known as dry eye syndrome, is a common eye condition that affects millions of people. It occurs when the eye doesn't produce enough tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly. Healthy tears are essential for clear vision and overall eye comfort.
Evaporative Dry Eye: This is the most common type of Dry Eye. It occurs when there's a deficiency in the oil layer of tears, leading to rapid tear evaporation and discomfort. It's often associated with inflammation of the eyelids, a condition known as Blepharitis.
Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye: In this type, the eye fails to produce an adequate quantity of aqueous tears due to reduced gland function or damage, often as a side effect of specific medications.
Mixed Varieties: Many Dry Eye cases combine elements of both Evaporative and Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye. Inflammation is a common factor in all forms of Dry Eye and is often associated with elevated salt concentration (hyperosmolarity) in the tears.
Several factors can cause or exacerbate Dry Eye, including:
Blepharitis: Inflammation of the eyelids, particularly Posterior Blepharitis, can lead to poor oil secretion from the Meibomian glands, contributing to rapid tear evaporation.
Age: Dry Eye symptoms are commonly experienced by individuals aged 65 and older.
Gender: Women are more susceptible to Dry Eye due to hormonal changes, which can become more noticeable during menopause but persist throughout life.
Omega-3 Deficiency: An insufficient intake of omega-3 "fish oil" containing healthy essential fatty acids can contribute to Dry Eye.
Medications: Certain medications like diuretics, antihistamines, and antidepressants can reduce tear production. Topical eye drops used for glaucoma management can also cause or worsen ocular surface issues and Dry Eye due to preservative chemicals.
Medical Conditions: Conditions such as Sjogren's Syndrome, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, and autoimmune disorders can contribute to Dry Eye.
Environmental Conditions: Smoke, wind, and dry climates can increase tear evaporation, exacerbating Dry Eye.
Common symptoms of Dry Eye include:
Stinging or burning sensations in the eyes.
A gritty or sandy feeling.
Episodes of excessive tearing (thin, watery tears).
Eye pain and redness.
Blurred vision, especially between blinks.
Discomfort while wearing contact lenses.
Reduced tolerance for reading or computer use.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's essential to consider Dry Eye as a potential cause and seek a comprehensive eye examination by our qualified eye care professionals.
Blepharitis is a common eye condition characterized by inflammation of the eyelids, particularly along the edges of the eyelids.
There are two main types of Blepharitis:
Anterior Blepharitis: This type affects the outside front of the eyelid where the eyelashes are attached. It's often caused by bacteria (Staphylococcus) or skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis.
Posterior Blepharitis: This type affects the inner edge of the eyelid that touches the eye's surface. It's typically associated with dysfunction of the Meibomian glands, leading to poor oil secretion and, consequently, rapid tear evaporation. Posterior Blepharitis is a common cause of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD).
Symptoms of Blepharitis may include:
Red, swollen eyelids.
Itchy or burning sensation.
Crusty or sticky eyelids, especially upon waking.
Flaky or scaly skin around the eyes.
Increased sensitivity to light.
A foreign body sensation, as if something is in the eye.
Proper diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment. Diagnosis includes:
Patient History: Discussing symptoms, medical history, and environmental factors.
External Eye Examination: Evaluating eyelids, conjunctiva, and cornea.
Tear Quantity and Quality Measurement: Using tests like Schirmer Test, Tear Film Break-Up Time (TBUT), and Tear Osmolarity Test.
Corneal and Conjunctival Staining: Using special dyes to assess eye surface health.
Meibomian Gland Evaluation: Assessing the Meibomian glands for function.
Additional Tests: As needed for specific cases.
Evaluation for Other Eye Conditions: Checking for coexisting conditions.
Treatment depends on the diagnosis:
Basic treatments for Dry Eye: Hot compresses, lid and lash cleaners, artificial tears, and omega-3 supplements.
Anti-inflammatory eye drops for Dry Eye.
Prescription medications for Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye.
Expression of the Meibomian glands to unclog them.
Punctal plugs to reduce tear drainage.
At the Center for Eye Care and Optical, our dedicated professionals provide high-quality eye care. If you suspect you have Dry Eye or Blepharitis, or if you're experiencing eye-related issues, please contact us to schedule an appointment. Your eye health and comfort are our top priorities.