What is Dry Eye Disease?
Dry Eye Disease is a condition that occurs when a person does not have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. There are many causes of Dry Eye, including age, gender, medications that reduce tear production, medical and environmental conditions, and long-term use of contact lenses. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of Dry Eye.
- Dry eyes may occur if you don’t produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears.
- The prevalence of Dry Eye Disease increases with age.
- Dry eyes are more common in people over 50.
- Twice as many women as men have Dry Eye Disease.
- Approximately 16.4 million adults have been diagnosed with Dry Eye Disease.
How do you know if you have Dry Eye Disease?
Many peoples’ eyes may feel dry in certain situations, like when flying on a plane, being in a room with air conditioning, or after staring at a computer screen for a few hours. You may be able to relieve the dryness by changing your environment and/or your environment using over-the-counter (OTC eye drops and /or ‘prescription (Rx) medication to help increase the production of your natural tears. in severe cases, your eye doctor can also do a procedure to reduce or stop the drainage of tears from your eyes.
Dry Eye Disease can cause eye redness, stinging, pain, and/or itchiness for a prolonged period of time. Other symptoms include sensitivity to light, watery eyes, blurred vision, and difficulty with nighttime driving or wearing contact lenses.
Treating Dry Eye Disease.
An ophthalmologist or your regular optometrist can diagnose Dry Eye Disease and help you manage the symptoms. The type of treatment varies, depending on the severity of the disease and its impact on daily activities. Common approaches to treatment include:
Adding Artificial Tears
These are OTC eye drops that you can obtain without a prescription. They are available in most drug stores.
Increasing Your Own Tears
For more severe cases of Dry Eye, or for those who don’t get symptom relief with artificial tear eye drops, your eye doctor may recommend a prescription eye drop. This type of therapy works by penetrating the ocular surface to help your eyes make their own tears.
This approach is designed to relieve Dry Eye symptoms by keeping natural tears in the eye for longer periods. An eye doctor may do this by blocking the tear ducts with tiny plugs that can be removed if necessary. Alternatively, an eye doctor may perform a surgical procedure to close your tear ducts permanently.
Decreasing Eye Surface Inflammation
It’s important to take care of your eyes and prevent Dry Eye flare-ups that may result when your eyes are irritated. Your eye doctor may recommend prescription eye drops or ointments, as well as other helpful interventions such as using warm compresses on the eyes, massaging your eyelids, and using eyelid cleaners to help reduce inflammation around the eye surface.