Dry eyes is a disease which effects over 15 million people in this country and is one of the most common complaints for which people see an eye doctor. Women are effected more frequently than men.
• watering, excessive tearing
• light sensitivity
• tired eyes
• general discomfort
• eye fatigue
• blurred vision
Having a quality tear film is an important component of having clear and crisp vision. The tear film is made up of a lipid (fatty) layer, a watery layer and a mucus layer. The tear film serves many purposes. It keeps the eye moist, creates a smooth surface for light to pass through the eye, nourishes the front of the eye, and provides protection from injury and infection. Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) can severely reduce a patient’s quality of life.
Since there are several types of dry eyes, for proper diagnosis and treatment, it is important to be evaluated by an eye care practitioner. There are many external aggravating factors for people who suffer from dry eyes such as wind, heat, dry environments, high altitudes, computer use, smoking, and certain medications.
Dry eyes can also be caused by aging changes, medical conditions such as thyroid disease, menopause, Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s white blood cells destroy the exocrine glands, specifically the salivary and lacrimal glands, that produce saliva and tears. Sjögren’s syndrome is often associated with dry eye, dry mouth and rheumatoid arthritis. Many prescribing medications can contribute to a patient’s dry eyes including medications for allergy, depression and anxiety.
Chronic dry eyes occur when tear-producing glands become unhealthy, effecting the mixture between a healthy quantity, and good quality tear film. If left untreated, chronic dry eyes can lead to more serious problems such as vision impairment, eye infections, or even permanent vision loss.
Tear Osmolarity by TearLab®
Tear osmolarity testing is one of the most advanced diagnostic methods available today to evaluate the health of the tear film. The Eye Doctors of Lancaster have invested in this technology for our patients’ benefit. Watch the following video to learn more about tear osmolarity.
Many treatments are available for patients who suffer from DES, but the ideal treatment requires identification of the cause of the dry eyes. In some cases, simple daily therapy regimens and medications prescribed by your eye care practitioner can improve symptoms. In other cases, more advanced measures may need to be taken to treat the root cause of the disease. Lipiflow® is a new treatment option for patients who suffer from dry eye due to meibomian gland dysfunction. Meibomian gland dysfunction occurs when the oil glands become blocked with thick secretions. Chronically clogged glands may become unable to secrete oil, which results in permanent changes in the tear film and dry eyes.
Fortunately, the vast majority of patients with dry eyes can be helped. To determine what treatment options are right for you, and to have a thorough dry eye examination, please call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jonathan Andrews at The Dry Eye Center of Eye Doctors of Lancaster.