Dry Eye Syndrome / Dry Eye Disease
No matter what you call it, the symptoms of dry eye are uncomfortable and inconvenient. Many of the following symptoms are common with eye allergies, and it is important to differentiate the two for appropriate treatment.
- Burning / Stinging
- Dryness / Scratchiness / Grittiness
- Watery Eyes
- Fluctuating vision
- Light Sensitivity
- Eye Redness
The thin layer of tears on the surface of your eye is comprised of three layers; lipid (oil), water, and a mucous layer overlying the cornea. Additionally, there are multiple proteins found within the tears. These layers dynamically mix with eachother and spread across the eye with each blink.
What causes dry eye disease?
Dry Eye Disease is a multi-factorial condition.
- Medical Conditions (Ex. Diabetes, Sjogren Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.)
- Use of medications
- Environmental Factors (Ex. Smoke, wind, humidity level)
- Aging and Hormonal Changes
- Condition of the eye itself (Ex. Prior injuries or surgeries)
- Contact Lens Use
- Our habits and behaviours (Ex. Computer, tablet, etc.)
The above factors affect the different components of the tear film, and depending on what is involved, appropriate treatment can be tailored to that particular type of dry eye disease.
What can be done?
An assessment with medical history review with your optometrist will evaluate the severity of dry eye disease, and the role of any contributing factors. Treatment can then be tailored to your specific variant of dry eye disease.
- Eye Drops / Artificial Tears
The selection available at any of the pharmacies or stores can be overwhelming. Different drops have different compositions to replenish and restore your tear film, and these are also available in different viscosities (thicknesses). Any drop instilled in the eye will dissipate, from either drainage or evaporation, and will need to be applied again. With excessive use of artificial tears, it is generally advised to use a non-preserved artifical tear (NPAT) to minimize the exposure to eye drop preservatives.
Please consult with your optometrist if you have any questions about eye drops.
- Eyelid Hygiene
Within the upper and lower eyelids are oil producing glands (Meibomian glands) which are responsible for the lipid (oil) layer in our tears. There are approximately 30 glands in each eyelid and their openings are located at the edge ; the eyelid margin. These glands can become clogged and ineffective. When bacteria is trapped within a clogged meibomian gland, a localized infection can occur resulting in what is commonly known as a stye. These clogged glands can eventually scar over. As we get into our later years, we would want to maintain as many patent and operational glands as possible.
Hygiene essentially consists of keeping the eyelids clean and healthy.
Complete removal of eye make-up is advised.
- Medical Treatment
Dry eye disease is a chronic condition with different levels of severity, and each case requires a personalized approach in treatment. Medical treatment with prescription medications or therapies are available. Please consult with your optometrist regarding management of dry eye disease as it pertains to your case.
This page is intended for information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.