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Laguna Hills, CA doctor shares the causes for dry eye along with treatment options

Do your dry eyes make you miserable? If so, you should schedule an appointment with Laguna Hills, CA ophthalmologist, Dr. George Salib. Dry eye disease is a multi-faceted condition that can cause patients uncomfortable symptoms such as burning, dryness, extreme sensitivity to wind or drafts, and the sensation of foreign bodies in the eyes. In the following article, Dr. Salib will address what dry eye disease is, what causes it, and the various treatments available.

WHAT IS DRY EYE DISEASE?

Dry eye disease is one of the most common ocular conditions among patients in the United States. The main characteristic of the condition is insufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye.

The surface of the eye is covered by a thin tear film that has multiple responsibilities. The tear film is a complex structure designed to protect the eye including:

  • Keeping the eyes moist and comfortable
  • A smooth surface for light to pass through
  • Nourishment for the front of the eye
  • Protection from infection and injury

When the tear film is compromised, it results in the symptoms of dry eye disease. In most individuals the condition is mild in severity, however, it can still cause uncomfortable symptoms and impact eye health. Decades ago, dry eye disease was treated by telling the patient to use over the counter eye drops. We know understand that dry eyes is a highly complex condition that requires specific diagnosis and treatment.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DRY EYE

Burning sensation, chronic dryness, and scratchiness on the eye are the most common symptoms of dry eye disease, but they aren’t the only ones. Other symptoms may include:

  • Gritty sensation of a foreign body in the eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Heavy or fatigued eyes
  • Watery eyes (this is because the dryness may lead to an overproduction of tears).

The prevalence of dry eye increases as individuals get above the age of 40 and continues to increase every decade following. As the population continues to age, it’s estimated that the condition will continue to be diagnosed more frequently.

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CAUSES FOR DRY EYES

Individuals with dry eye syndrome either have tear glands that do not produce enough tears, or chemical composition of the tears leads to them evaporating too quickly. Risk factors include:

  • Aging – Especially women over 40.
  • Certain medications – Dry eye can occur as a side effect to certain antihistamines, blood pressure medicines, antidepressants, birth control pills or Parkinson’s medications.
  • Climate – Dry eye can be more prevalent in dry, dusty, and windy areas.
  • Screen time – Long periods of digital screen use leads to a decrease in blink rates and impacts functionality of the glands that spread tear oil.

There are also certain medical conditions that can lead to chronic dry eye symptoms, they include:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Lupus
  • LASIK surgery
  • Blepharitis – swollen, irritated eyelids
  • Extensive contact lens use

TREATMENTS FOR DRY EYES

Fortunately, there are many effective treatment options that can greatly improve symptoms of dry eyes. Some of the most common include:

  • Artificial Tears – These drops lubricate the eye which often alleviates the sensation of a foreign body along with dryness and scratchiness.
  • Prescription eye drops – These drops are effective at increasing tear production.
  • Punctal Plugs – Tiny insert that is placed in the lower eyelid to continually release lubrication on the eye.

Other forms of treatment include behavior modifications to address the causes of dry eye symptoms. These may include:

  • Wear sunglasses outdoors to reduce wind, dust, and sun to the eyes.
  • Use an air cleaner to filter out dust particles indoors.
  • Use a humidifier indoors to add moisture to dry air. In some cases, dry eye symptoms are caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. The meibomian gland is responsible for producing the oil that prevents the tears from evaporating too quickly. Treatment for this meibomian gland dysfunction may include an in-office procedure to unclog the blocked gland.

Call Orange County Eye Institute in Laguna Hills today for dry eye diagnosis and treatment.

We have the training and experience to accurately diagnose the cause of your dry eye and recommend treatments that will alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. To book an appointment, call our office today at (949) 770-1322.

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