Dry Eyes affects 10-20 % of adults. The name implies the eye is actually dry yet many people who have the problem complain of tearing. In 1995, the National Eye Institute defined it as “a disorder of the tear film due to tear deficiency or excessive tear evaporation which causes damage to the eye surface and is associated with symptoms of ocular discomfort.” Since then, there has been much interest at improving and treating the root causes of the issue. With so many people affected, it’s important to realize there is help for the condition.
There are many risk factors for dry eyes. Medications, age, sex, occupation, systemic diseases, contact lens use, and post Lasik or refractive surgery are frequent causes. Even more common is poor blinking. All day long we stare at our phones or tablets or computer screens and we blink less frequently. This clearly affects a lot of us and is another risk factor for developing dry eyes.
Diagnosing and treating dry eyes is important because the condition affects our daily lives. Blurred vision and tearing are common problems. This can affect your ability to do your work, to read your medication bottles, or can even be embarressing because you have to wipe your eyes all the time. Now, we have the ability to precisely diagnose the condition using new and old technology.
All patients with dry eye symptoms need to have an thorough eye exam. Depending on your symptoms, you may also benefit from evaluation with the TearLab Osmolarity System http://www.tearlab.com/products/doctors/productinfo.htm
In addition, the LipiView allows the doctor to view your actual oil producing glands, to observe your blink rate, and to quantify your tear film’s oil content.
Once we have an understanding of your condition, we can then focus on treatment. Treatment may involve reducing inflammation, improving oil gland function, correcting the osmolarity of your tears, and even reducing the drainage of your tears. Medications can be helpful as well. They may be topical or oral. Hot compresses, eyelid scrubbing, debriding the lash line, and massaging the eyelids daily are also indicated. Managing your environment by dimming fluorescent lighting, dimming your monitor, reducing direct air flow, and increasing ambient humidity can all have a profound impact.
There is so much more that can be tested and treated so make an appointment with your eye care provider and get relief for your symptoms.