Dry eye occurs when tears aren’t able to provide adequate moisture. To be more specific, it is a collection of symptoms caused by an imbalance in the quantity or quality of lubrication tears. These symptoms can include dry, red, gritty, and even watery eyes.
Often, dry eye sufferers report the feeling of something foreign in the eye, eye strain, fluctuating vision or that eyes feel better closed. Often none of these symptoms are reported but there are complaints of unexplained poor night driving vision or computer vision issues.
Dry eye patients are generally uncomfortable with their contact lenses.
As odd as it sounds, many dry eye sufferers can experience “wet eyes” because the tear glands overcompensate with reflex tears due to irritation. The moisture level of the eye is maintained by a balance of lubrication tear production, lid oil and mucous. Natural tear loss occurs by drainage into openings in the eyelids and evaporation. When this balance is not sustained, dry spots appear on the surface of the eye and causes irritation and irregular vision. If these dry spots persist, an infection can develop in the eye. A lack of sufficient lubrication tears can frequently cause or worsen eye allergy symptoms.
There are many causes of dry eye. Some medications like antihistamines and medications for birth control, high blood pressure, and anxiety disorders can cause or increase signs of dry eye. Environmental conditions such as low humidity and moving air currents can also aggravate dry eye.
Eyelid disease, even subtle lid changes can cause dry eye. Lid disease from allergy or scaling from lid infection can cause a considerable disruption of the tear film. Eye makeup that tends to flake off the lid or lash and accumulate in the tear film can also be a potential for irritation and dry eye.
One of the most common offenders is computer use. Monitor viewing over long sustained periods increases evaporation and dryness in the eye by two mechanisms. The first is reduced blink rate or staring. Secondly, because of larger and elevated monitor screens, eye gaze is elevated causing increased opening of eyelids. Both promote increased evaporation on the eye. Helpful tips are to blink more frequently, use laptops or lower the monitor to lower the eye gaze.
Dr. Teles evaluates the tear film and its composition over the eye as a part of the routine comprehensive examination. When issues are apparent, Dr. Teles can use biomicroscopy video photography to document and to allow patients to view their eye. Dr. Teles’ success in treating dry eye comes through a detailed history and evaluation of the tear components. The “shotgun” or “band-aid” method of treatment using drops as needed are rarely successful. It is important to note that if lubrication drops are to be used they should be preservative free and free of blood vessel constrictors found in many popular over the counter drops.
There are several therapies available to treat dry eye. These can include simple over the counter drops, various eyelid therapies to help promote lid oil, special drops to increase mucous production, prescription drops or even occlusion of lid drainage to prevent drainage of good tears. Review of medication options and environmental considerations are equally important.
Most health insurance companies cover treatment and office visits for dry eye.
Treatment of dry eye can make a considerable difference in contact lens comfort and length of wear. Patients considering LASIK because they have dry eye issues with contacts should be thoroughly evaluated and treated before they consider following through with a LASIK procedure. One of the main side effects of LASIK is dry eye. Call Dr. Teles today for a free dry eye screening consultation.