Dry eyes affects millions of individuals in the United States; it occurs when the quantity or quality of tears diminishes and can no longer lubricate the eye adequately. Dr. Katia Taba, Retina Specialist of Personalized Retina Care of Naples, agrees with the following publication from the AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology) concerning dry eyes.
Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common problems affecting the general population and can cause problems that range in severity from mildly irritating to debilitating. Dry eye syndrome is a general term that describes the state of the front of the eye in response to a breakdown in the natural layer of tears that coats the front of the eye, called the tear film. Normally, the tear film is a stable, homogenous layer that not only provides the cornea and conjunctiva a healthy buffer from damage when it is constantly exposed to the air, but this interface between the tear film and the air is also responsible for a significant amount of the focusing power of the eye. When the tear film becomes unhealthy, it breaks down in different places on the cornea and conjunctiva, leading not only to symptoms of irritation, but also to unstable and intermittently changing vision1.
While there are numerous different symptoms one can experience, prominent amongst these symptoms is tearing; naturally, a patient may wonder why their eye can be “dry” despite producing plenty of tears. This is because the unhealthy tear film and the irritation that comes from it stimulates the brain to produce a wave or reflex of tears to help counteract the irritation. However, this reflex tearing is simply insufficient to correct the overall problem. For this reason, dry eye syndrome could more appropriately be termed “tear film dysfunction1”.
Other symptoms of dry eye syndrome or tear film dysfunction include:
• Sandy or gritty feeling
• Scratchy or foreign-body sensation
• Frequent blinking
• Mattering or caking of the eyelashes (usually worse upon waking)
• Blurry or fluctuating vision (made worse when
reading, computer, watching television, driving, or playing video games)
• Light sensitivity
• Eye pain and/or headache
• Heavy eyelids
• Eye fatigue
Dry eye is a common ocular condition and a major reason for visits to ophthalmologists. Its prevalence varies widely among epidemiological studies depending on how the disease is defined and diagnosed, and which population is surveyed. It is estimated to be 7.4%–33.7%.1
Moreover, the definition of dry eye is still under continual revision, and the lack of a single diagnostic tool challenges ophthalmologists worldwide. The 2007 Report of International Dry Eye Workshop recommended to combine subjective symptoms with objective clinical tests to confirm dry eye diagnosis.1
• Decreased hormones associated with aging
• Thyroid eye conditions
• Eyelid inflammation (blepharitis)
• Medication/supplement use, including psychiatric medicines, OTC cold medicines, anti-histamines, beta-blockers, pain relievers, sleeping pills, diuretics,
Hormones hormone replacement, and oral contraceptives
• Sjogren’s syndrome (dry mucus membranes throughout body)
• Other autoimmune disorders including Lupus and/or Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Chemical splashes / injuries to the eyes
• Eye surgery
• Infrequent blinking, associated with staring at
computer or video screens, and Parkinson’s
• Environmental (dusty, windy, hot/dry)
• Contact lens use
• Neurologic conditions, including stroke, Bell’s palsy, Parkinson’s, trigeminal nerve problem,
• Exposure keratitis, in which the eyelids do not close completely during sleep• Post refractive surgery (LASIK or PRK), it may generally last three to six months or longer
• Inflammatory eye conditions, including Herpes virus infections and uveitis / iritis
• Vitamin A deficiency (rare in US)1
Depending on the causes, there are numerous treatments for dry eye syndrome / tear film dysfunction, but the more common treatment over the counter modalities include:
• Artificial tears (preferably ones without a redness-reliever component in them)
• Warm compresses
• Lid scrubs
• Oral fish oil supplements has also been found to be useful in alleviating symptoms and decreasing the frequency of topical agents.1 But if you are on a blood thinner, you might not be a candidate for fish oil supplementation.
For prescription eyedrops such as Restasis or Xiidra, you should be evaluated by an eye doctor.
Personalized Retina Care of Naples utilizes state-of-the-art equipment for incomparable diagnosis and treatment of medical and surgical retinal conditions and disorders. Dr. Taba is a Board-Certified Ophthalmologist and is Fellowship trained in surgical and medical retinal diseases. She is currently accepting patients for a second opinion in other fields of ophthalmology.
To find out more, or to schedule your appointment, please call (239) 325-3970 today.
Personalized Retina Care of Naples