Dry Eye Syndrome

By: Danny Lee

Think back to the last time you were working on your computer for the 8th consecutive hour, having trouble focusing because your eyes felt like a desert. How often to do you experience this? Every day? Right now, as you’re reading this? If you experience this annoying phenomenon often, coupled with other symptoms, you may be dealing with dry eye syndrome.

If you’re living with dry eye syndrome, you know first hand how annoying and frustrating it can be. Relying on eye drops everywhere you go and constantly rubbing your eyes is no one’s idea of fun. So, what exactly is dry eye syndrome? And what can you do to combat it?

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a condition that causes dry, irritated, red eyes. Dry eye syndrome is more complicated then you may think, however. It can be caused by an imbalance in the tear film (we’ll get to that later) or a simple lack of tear production.

Dry eye can present many symptoms, the most common being:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Excessively watery eyes
  • The feeling of something being in your eye (foreign body sensation)
  • Grittiness
  • Burning or stinging

Many different things can cause dry eye syndrome. Factors such as genetics, gender, hormone imbalance, work conditions, environmental conditions and overall health can affect your chances of developing dry eye syndrome.

The most common type of dry eye syndrome is called evaporative dry eye.

Evaporative Dry Eye and the Tear Film

Evaporative dry eye makes up the majority of cases of dry eye syndrome. This condition is caused by an imbalance in tear film production. To understand this condition, you must understand how the tear film works.

The tear film is responsible for nourishing and lubricating your eye. It is made up of three components. If one of these components is lacking, the tear film cannot do its job correctly. The three layers of the tear film are:

    • Oil layer: the outermost layer, the oil layer helps keep the other two tear components from evaporating too quickly. This oil is produced in the meibomian glands, which line the margins of the eyelids.
    • Aqueous layer: this layer is responsible for providing nourishment to the eye and spreading the tears evenly across the eye.
    • Mucous layer: the mucous layer is the innermost layer of the tear film. It helps the tear film stick to the eye and coats the cornea.

When someone has evaporative dry eye syndrome, it means that there is a blockage in the meibomian glands in the eyelid margin. This means that less oil coats the eye, and leads to the tears evaporating quicker. This condition is also called meibomian gland disorder (MGD).

Dry Eye Treatments

The treatment you receive for your dry eye syndrome greatly depends on your symptoms and what is causing your symptoms.
Mild dry eye symptoms can be managed using lubricating eye drops. These can be found at any drugstore. If these do not work to manage everyday dryness, your doctor may prescribe something stronger. Frequent use of eye drops is beneficial to prevent corneal scarring or damage over time.

If you have evaporative dry eye, your treatments will be aimed at releasing the oil build-up in the meibomian glands, allowing for better oil flow. This can be done using hot compresses and gently massaging the eyelids to express any build up.

People with chronic dry eye symptoms who are not producing enough oil to cover the cornea may benefit from a supplement regimen. Omega-3 supplements have shown promising results for those with chronic dry eye. They can help your eyes produce their own oil over time.

Punctal plugs offer a more permanent solution to chronic dry eye. Punctal plugs block tears from draining from the eye. This is helpful for people who do not produce enough tears. Punctal plugs keep tears in the eye for longer and increase everyday comfort, reducing your need for eye drops.

If you have dry eye syndrome and are looking for a solution, contact Dr. Danny Lee in Decatur, AL. He is highly experienced in creating custom treatment plans for dry eye sufferers based on their symptoms and lifestyle. Call us or contact us online to schedule your dry eye consultation today!

  • Recent Posts