Dry Eye Syndrome, DES, is the most common eye disorder affecting about 20% of the population. The root cause is deficient production of tears from the lacrimal (tear) glands which do not produce enough or a high enough quality of tear. It may also be caused by your tear ducts being too effective in draining the tears from your eyes.
There are 2 types of tears, lubricating and reflex. Lubricating tears, as the name implies, provide the lubrication and moisturizing your eye needs on a constant basis. Reflex tears are produced in response to irritation or injury and are used to flush the eye. A lack of lubricating tears can trigger the production of reflex tears thus making constant teary weeping eyes a symptom of DES.
Factors that contribute to DES include age, contact lens wear, environmental factors, eye usage, and side effects of certain diseases and medication.
- Approximately 75% of those over 65 suffer from DES since there is a decrease in tear production
- Contact lenses can increase tear evaporation that may lead to irritation and possible infections. DES is a leading cause of contact lens intolerance.
- High altitude, windy, dry, sunny, cold weather, air pollution (forest fire smoke) all contribute to DES. Sounds like Jackson doesn’t it? Also the dry air of heating systems can exacerbate the problem.
- Computer users are at higher risk for DES too. When using a computer your blink rate is decreased quite a bit leading to more dryness.
There are many treatment regimens now available to help alleviate the symptoms of DES. First and foremost would be the use of artificial tears. The best artificial tears to use are those that come in individual tubettes and have no preservatives. They can be used all day whenever desired, so use them when you need them. A nighttime ointment can be very beneficial also. Used just prior to bed it provides a thick coating for the eye at night.
New in the last few years is Restasis, a prescription medication that helps reduce the scarring that can occur to the lacrimal glands with chronic dry eye allowing your own eye to produce the lubricating tears it needs. It is a very safe medication but does require follow-up exams to check for side-effects.
You don’t have to live with Dry Eye Syndrome. There are treatment options out there to suit your needs, so call (733-1051) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set-up an appointment to be checked.