Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye
Persistent dryness, scratchiness and a burning sensation on your eyes are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. These symptoms alone may be enough for your eye doctor to diagnose dry eye syndrome. Sometimes, he or she may want to measure the amount of tears in your eyes. A thin strip of filter paper placed at the edge of the eye, called a Schirmer test, is one way of measuring this.
Some people with dry eyes also experience a “foreign body sensation” – the feeling that something is in the eye. And it may seem odd, but sometimes dry eye syndrome can cause watery eyes, because the excessive dryness works to overstimulate production of the watery component of your eye’s tears.
Hot, dry and/or windy climates, high altitudes, excessive sun exposure, central heating, air conditioning, hair dryers, cigarette smoke, air pollution, air travel.
Allergy medications, esp. antihistamines, Antidepressants,(e.g. amitriptyline, diazepam), Some blood pressure medications, parkinson's medications, birth control pills, diuretics, beta blockers, sleeping pills, many pain medications, certain medications which regulate heart rhythm irregularities, decongestants
Two million individuals abandon soft contact lens wear altogether each year with nearly 50% of these contact lens "dropouts" attributing dryness or discomfort as the primary reason.
Parkinson's disease, Sjögren's syndrome (an auto-immune disease), Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Lacrimal gland deficiency, Diabetes, Sarcoidosis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Rosacea: Facial rosacea is commonly associated with ocular rosacea, which causes conditions such as blepharitis.
Dry eye is the most common complaint or adverse event following LASIK.
Thyroid conditions, Hormonal changes during menopause, Decreased production of androgen, Estrogen supplementation -(there are reports both of this improving dry eye conditions and worsening them).
Blinking is critical in spreading tears over the surface of the eye and stimulating tear production. A chronic low blink rate is associated with dry eye symptoms. Computer use, reading, and watching TV are the three activities most commonly associated with a low blink rate.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
In dry eye syndrome, the tear glands that moisturize the eye don’t produce enough tears, or the tears have a chemical composition that causes them to evaporate too quickly.
Dry eye syndrome has several causes. It occurs:
- As a part of the natural aging process, especially among women over age 40.
- As a side effect of many medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medicines, Parkinson’s medications and birth control pills.
- Because you live in a dry, dusty or windy climate with low humidity.
If your home or office has air conditioning or a dry heating system, that too can dry out your eyes. Another cause is insufficient blinking, such as when you’re staring at a computer screen all day.
Dry eyes are also associated with certain systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea or Sjogren’s Syndrome (a triad of dry eyes, dry mouth, and rheumatoid arthritis or lupus).
Long-term contact lens wear, incomplete closure of the eyelids, eyelid disease and a deficiency of the tear-producing glands are other causes.
Dry eye syndrome is more common in women, possibly due to hormone fluctuations. Recent research suggests that smoking, too, can increase your risk of dry eye syndrome. Dry eye has also been associated with incomplete lid closure following blepharoplasty – a popular cosmetic surgery to eliminate droopy eyelids.
Dry Eyes and LASIK
If you are considering LASIK, be aware that dry eyes may disqualify you for the surgery, at least until your dry eye condition is successfully treated. Dry eyes increase your risk for poor healing after LASIK, so most surgeons will want to treat the dry eyes first, to ensure a good LASIK outcome. This goes for other types of vision correction surgery, as well.
Dry Eye and Contact Lenses
One of the most common complaints that we hear at Williams vision is, 'my contact lenses make my eyes feel dry.
This is likely the result of dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is a common problem among contact lens wearers as well as non-wearers. Symptoms of dry eyes can be more pronounced if you wear contact lenses and your contacts start to dry out.
If you experiencing dry eye symptoms such as irritated, "scratchy" and red eyes while wearing your contacts, you may want to consider switching to a new type of contact lens or care product often can make your eyes more comfortable.
The best place to start is with a visit to Williams Eye Care so that we can evaluate the cause of your dryness symptoms and determine the best way to increase your contact lens wearing comfort.