Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn't have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults. It also commonly affects those who live in arid climates and spend many hours on a computer.
People who suffer from dry eyes either have inadequate production of there own tears or, the tears that are produced are of poor quality. That means the complex components and layers that make up the tears are imbalance or insufficient.
There are many factors that can contribute to dry eyes including age, gender, medications, medical conditions and environment.
There are also many effective treatments for dry eyes. Each treatment focuses on different elements of dryness. An initial approach is to add a quality over the counter artificial tear regularly throughout the day to the eye. Preservative free tears are highly recommended due to being free of some of the additives that can further irritate the eyes. Conserving the natural tears you already have is another treatment option. Tears drain out of small openings in the eye lids. Those opening can be blocked with small plugs disallowing tear out flow. This allows your natural tears to linger longer on the ocular surface. There are also medications available that allow you to produce more of your natural tears thus increasing tear volume on the ocular surface. Other approaches including treating contributing eyelid conditions or other inflammatory conditions of the body that may be contributing to dry eye can also be helpful.
Dry eye is a burden to many. However, the treatments for it have never been better! If you suffer from dry eye, we would love to help become part of the solution.
Dr. Kurt Hepworth