Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease and How to Treat Them
Dry eye disease is a chronic and typically progressive condition that is caused by a lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. Consequences of dry eyes range from subtle but constant eye irritation to significant inflammation and even scarring of the front surface of the eye. In most cases, dry eyes can be managed successfully, resulting in noticeably better eye comfort, fewer dry eye symptoms, and potentially sharper vision. Read on to learn more about dry eye disease and what you can do to combat it.
Anatomy of the Eye
Eyes are the organs responsible for sight. A number of components work together to allow this complex organ to function and to give us the ability to see. When it comes to tear production, the lacrimal gland constantly produces tears to keep the eye healthy. Each component of the tear serves a critical purpose. Tear lipids help keep the tear from evaporating too quickly and increase lubrication, while mucin helps anchor and spread the tears across the surface of the eye.
Tears drip from the lacrimal gland and are drained from the eye through two small openings called upper and lower puncta, which are located at the inside corner of the upper and lower eyelids near the nose. Tears move from the glands through a passage called the canaliculi and into the lacrimal sac before being released. Excess tears are intended to continue their journey through the tear duct (nasolacrimal duct) and drain into the back of the nose.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Symptoms of dry eyes and dry eye syndrome vary depending on severity. Common symptoms experienced by those with dry eyes include a burning or itching sensation, heavy eyelids, fatigued or achy eyes, sensation of dryness, red eyes, photophobia (light sensitivity), and blurred vision.
Another common symptom of dry eyes can be watery eyes. This occurs when over-stimulation of dryness on the eye’s surface causes the production of excess tears as a protective mechanism. This reflex-like tearing does not correct the underlying dry eye condition.
Causes of Dry Eyes
A consistent layer of tears on the surface of the eye is essential for keeping your eyes healthy and your vision strong. For many reasons, your eye(s) may become dry or irritated. Side effects of certain drugs (like antihistamines) or a lack of balance in your tear-flow system have been known to cause dry eyes. Doctors have reported that women going through menopause have an increased chance of experiencing dry eyes as a side effect. The eyes change with age, and people over the age of 50 are more likely to report dry eye symptoms. Conditions that do not allow your eyes to fully close and dryness from heaters or air conditioners are also responsible for dry eyes.
Treatment for Dry Eyes
While dry eyes may be a chronic condition for some, effective treatment options will allow you to reduce the irritation and discomfort it causes. In many cases, routine use of artificial tears provides additional lubrication necessary for keeping your eyes moist. Minor behavioral modifications, such as taking frequent breaks from the computer or changing contacts more regularly, can significantly reduce dry eye symptoms. In more severe cases, an optometrist might recommend prescription eye medications or in-office procedures to help your body create more tears.
One procedure that is now being offered to patients is TrueTear, the latest in cutting-edge technology for the treatment of dry eyes. The procedure uses a treatment called neurostimulation to address the underlying cause of your dry eyes. TrueTear is administered through the nasal cavity and must reach in far enough to contact nasal mucous membrane with nerve branches. It works by safely stimulating the nerves of the glands responsible for tear production. Used in other well-known devices like pacemakers, cochlear implants, and TENS devices, TrueTear is the first and only neurostimulation device that is drug-free and FDA approved to reduce dry eye symptoms. Unlike other targeted dry eye treatments, TrueTear has the ability to restore the function of all the glands needed to produce tears.
Dry Eye Relief in New Jersey
With over 4.88 millions Americans suffering from dry eye disease, even more will experience these uncomfortable symptoms during their lifetime. At Marano Eye Care, we make it our mission to address all issues presented by our patients with an individualized treatment plan focused on their needs. Our doctors are well-versed in treating a number of eye conditions, and will work with you to increase your eye comfort and improve your vision. To learn more about TrueTear and other procedures we offer, contact us today to make an appointment at one of our three New Jersey locations.