What is Chronic Dry Eye?

Dry Eye is a common condition often underdiagnosed and untreated in which the eyes are insufficiently lubricated leading to chronic irritation, redness, and blurry vision.  Its symptoms can range from mild to severely debilitating for some patients.

Dry eye is associated with an underproduction of tears or more commonly a chemical imbalance of the tears themselves leading to premature evaporation.  Left untreated Dry Eye has the potential to damage vision and effect our daily activities such as reading, driving, working, and wearing contact lenses.

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What Causes Dry Eye?

As with most conditions, the symptoms of Dry Eye increase with age (more common in patients older than 50).  In recent years the prevalence of Dry Eye has been rapidly growing in younger populations due to computer and electronic device use.

Statistically, women are more affected by dry eye due to hormonal changes associated with menopause, pregnancy, and oral contraceptive use.  Other factors causing or exacerbating Dry Eye include:

  • Systemic Medications (Antihistamines/decongestants, Blood Pressure, Anti-Anxiety meds)
  • Systemic Disease (Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Diabetes, Thyroid disease)
  • Environmental conditions such as smoking, low humidity, or excessive wind or sun
  • Ocular Surgeries (Cataract, LASIK, or Lid surgery)
  • Long-term Contact lens use
  • Blepharitis/Meibomian Gland Dysfunction- inflammation of the lid margins and oil glands
  • Acne/Ocular Rosacea

Any of these factors, alone or in combination, can increase the prevalence and symptoms of Dry Eye.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Symptoms of Dry Eye can be variable from person to person and are often ignored until they become more severe. Symptoms can include the following:

  • Burning and stinging
  • Excessive tearing
  • Scratchiness or foreign body sensation
  • Tired eyes or fatigue
  • Blurry vision or intermittent blur with blinking
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Shooting pain
  • Contact lens intolerance

Treatment of Dry Eye

Our doctors at Harper’s Point Eye Associates take pride being on the cutting edge of Dry Eye research and will personalize a treatment plan for your individual condition.  Treatment options may include any or a combination of the following:

  • Environmental changes
  • Contact lens/Scleral lens options (When appropriate)
  • Lid hygiene: OTC vs prescribed lid cleaning, Microblepharoexfoliation (BlephEx)
  • Meibomian gland heating and expression
  • Tear Conservation with Punctal Plugs
  • Concentrated Omega 3 supplementation
  • Topical OTC and/or medication eyedrops
  • Oral medication
  • Amniotic Membranes and Autologous Serum drops