Dry eye occurs when your tear glands do not produce enough tears or the right type of tears.
The human eye has two main types of tear glands – the lacrimal gland and the meibomian gland. The lacrimal gland is responsible for emotional crying. The meibomian gland is responsible for clear vision and keeping the eye hydrated.
Dry eye disease occurs when the meibomian glands don’t work properly to create a tear film.
Causes Of Dry Eye Disease
Dry eye disease has many possible causes, including age, gender, environment, medications, systemic diseases, and poor diet.
As your eye ages, the meibomian glands become clogged, which leads to dry eye disease. Dry eye disease is also linked to an imbalance of hormones, which is why nine out of ten dry eye sufferers are women. Environmental factors such as dry, windy, and/or smoky environments can cause dry eye disease. Computer use is also a factor in dry eye disease. The average American uses the computer for eight to ten hours per day. These long periods of sitting in front of a computer cause a person to blink less frequently, which means the meibomian glands are only producing half of the proper amount of tears.
Medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, anxiolytics, anticholinergics, and diuretics can cause dry eye. Patients that suffer from a systemic inflammatory disease such as Sjögren’s, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or diabetes, also are more prone to developing dry eye disease.
Foods like candy, chips, and sweets that are high in sugar and preservatives can contribute to dry eye disease. Foods high in omega-3, vitamin C, vitamin E, and Vitamin D can help to decrease the occurrence and symptoms of dry eye disease.
Symptoms Of Dry Eye Disease
The symptoms of dry eye disease vary by person. Some people experience mild symptoms, such as vision that fluctuates and improves briefly with blinking, while others might experience more painful symptoms like a feeling of “pins and needles” in the eyes or pain behind the eye which can cause a headache behind the eyes.
Treatments For Dry Eye Disease
Dry eye disease is a chronic condition that can’t be cured; however, there are many treatment options available to help manage the disease. Our experienced team is equipped to administer a variety of treatment options including LipiFlow, artificial tears (such as Systane® Ultra®, Refresh®, Oasis®, and Restasis®) eye drops, Xiidra® eye drops, and Prokera® contact lenses to promote corneal healing. For dry eye patients that wear contact lenses, scleral contact lenses are an option to help manage the disease.
Dry Eye Self-Evaluation
Dry eye disease is one of the most frequent reasons a patient comes to us. If you are experiencing any symptoms of dry eye disease, you can complete a self-evaluation to determine if you have any symptoms of dry eye disease.