Dry Eyes

dry-eyesYour eyes are lubricated by tears produce d by tear glands in you upper eyelid. Blinking spreads a film of tears across the surface of your eyes that then move to the inside area of your eye and drain through the tear drainage ducts in the nose and throat.

Your tears are comprised of three separate layers. They include a watery layer, a mucus layer and an oily layer. An abnormality in any of these three layers can lead to dry eye symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Dryness of the eye mucous discharge
  • Redness Sandy or gritty feeling
  • Itching Burning
  • Constant or occasional tearing Watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity Eye pain or soreness
  • Lid infections Sties
  • Tired eyes Contact lens discomfort
  • Contact lens solution sensitivity frequent use of lubricating eye drops


What causes dry eyes?

Environment plays a large role in your tear layer. Sunny, dry or windy weather can lead to dry eye symptoms. Heaters, air conditioners and high altitudes increase the evaporation of tears from the eye’s surface.

If your tear drainage is too great or too slight, you may experience dry eye symptoms.

Wearing contact lenses increases tear evaporation and may lead to dry eye symptoms.

Tear production gradually decreases with age. At age 65 the tear glands produce about 40% of the lubricating tears they produced at age 18.

Certain medications, including decongestants, antihistamines and diuretics may reduce tear production.

Other related conditions include sinus/nasal congestion, chronic cough, bronchitis, allergies or hay fever, middle ear congestion, dry throat or mouth, headaches and asthma.


How are dry eyes treated?

Management of dry eyes can be a challenging process. Lubricating drops and ointments may provide relief for dry eyes. Lacrimal occlusion is often used when lubricating drops alone are not adequate. Lacrimal occlusion is the partial blockage of your tear drainage ducts to preserve natural tears on the surface of the eyes. This procedure often provides long-term relief from dry eye symptoms. Temporary (dissolving) plugs are inserted into your tear drainage ducts. They last four to seven days, during which time you symptoms are monitored. Once the efficacy of the plugs is determined, permanent plugs are inserted. Often lubricating drops are no longer needed following punctal occlusion.

When left untreated, severely dry eyes may lead to chronic infection of you eye and eyelids, corneal ulceration, scarring and permanent vision loss.

Our doctors of optometry will work with you to determine the best option for treating your dry eye symptoms.