Dry Eye Syndrome
is a common condition that manifests in various ways. Symptoms
include burning, stinging, gritty, and painful eyes. Interestingly, patients sometimes experience pain under the upper lid, which is often caused by a dry spot. Paradoxically, watery eyes can occur as a reflex response to dryness. Blurry vision may also occur due to the instability of the tear film, which acts as a lens for clear vision.
Dry Eyes can be caused by multiple factors, such as certain medications (e.g., contraceptives, anti-histamines, beta blockers), dry environments (air conditioning, fans, heaters, digital eye strain
), health conditions (menopause, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome), poor blinking habits (e.g., prolonged computer use
, incomplete blinking, sleeping with eyes partially open), LASIK surgery (which can disrupt corneal nerves responsible for signaling dryness), pterygiums and pingueculas, or blepharitis.
Different types of Dry Eye exist, as tears are produced by various glands responsible for oil, mucus, and aqueous components.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) or Posterior Blepharitis occurs when oil glands in the eyelid margins become blocked. In individuals aged 40s and 50s, the thickening of these oils can lead to an unstable tear film. Treatment options for MGD include preservative-free oil-based artificial tears designed for MGD patients, warm compresses to melt thickened oils followed by lid massage, and antibiotics to unclog severely blocked glands. Omega-3 fatty acids have also shown promise in improving oil consistency and gland function.
An unstable tear film can result from MGD, pingueculas, pterygiums, or poor blinking habits. This condition occurs when the tear film breaks apart immediately upon blinking due to poor composition. Treatment options may include artificial tears to stabilize the film or prescription medications like Restasis, which promotes increased tear production and improved stability. In cases where artificial tears are insufficient, Restasis
may be prescribed.
Tear deficiency refers to inadequate tear production and can be assessed using Schirmer Tear Strips. Causes include menopause, arthritis, dry environments, medications, or LASIK surgery. Treatment options include artificial tears or Restasis to enhance tear production. Punctal plugs can also be utilized to block tear drainage canals and preserve existing tears.