What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
The tear film keeps the eye moist, creates a smooth surface for light to pass through the eye, nourishes the front of the eye, and provides protection from injury and infection. It is composed of three layers: oil, water, mucus. The innermost mucus layer helps the tears adhere to the eyes. The middle layer is water and the outermost oil layer seals the tears and keeps them from evaporating.
Dry eye is a condition caused mainly by either a deficiency in the amount of tears, known as aqueous deficiency, an unstable tear film, in which portions of the eye dry too rapidly, or a combination of the two. Oftentimes there is an inflammatory component to the Dry Eye Syndrome.
Signs & Symptoms
Pain/burning, foreign body sensation, light sensitivity, excessive tearing, and blurred vision are all common symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome. This condition may also cause increased discomfort in contact lenses and eye fatigue, especially when reading, driving, watching television, or working on the computer.
The treatment of Dry Eye Syndrome varies depending on the cause. If the cause is another condition such as an autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, or estrogen deficiency that condition will be treated. However, most people with dry eye have no underlying disease. They may be treated with over-the-counter artificial tears or lubricating gels/ointment or anti-inflammatory prescription eye drops. Punctal plugs which block the drainage of tears from the eye, punctal cautery which permanently closes the drain from the eye, or a change in diet and supplements including increasing omega 3 fatty acid intake may also be recommended.