Dry Eye Center Q & A
What are dry eyes?
A thin film of tears spreads across your eyes every time you blink. The tear film lubricates your eyes, helps focus light, and flushes out dirt. Tears also contain proteins and nutrients that are essential for the health of your cornea and conjunctiva.
Dry eyes develop from two possible problems with your tears:
About 15% of all dry eyes develop when the lacrimal glands don’t produce enough tears.
Poor quality tears
Tears are made up of three layers that primarily contain oil, water, and mucus. The outer, oily layer prevents tears from evaporating too quickly. The middle watery layer carries nourishment, while the third (mucin) layer spreads the tear film across your eyes.
Your tears must contain the right amount of each layer to keep your eyes healthy and lubricated. About 86% of all dry eyes arise from a blockage of the meibomian glands, which reduces the amount of oil and lets tears evaporate too quickly.
What causes dry eye to develop?
Your chances of developing dry eye increase as you get older, but there are many causes of dry eye, including:
- Eye conditions: blocked meibomian glands and inflammatory conditions such as uveitis and blepharitis
- Medical conditions: diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and rosacea are a few examples of conditions causing dry eye
- Medications: many medications cause dry eyes, including antihistamines, decongestants, and antihypertensives.
- Prolonged screen time: when you look at a computer or TV screen, you blink less often, which reduces the tear film
What are the symptoms of dry eyes?
When they don’t have enough tears, your eyes become irritated and develop symptoms such as:
- Watering/excessive tearing
- Light sensitivity
- Eye fatigue
- Blurry vision
How are dry eyes treated?
Over-the-counter or prescription eye drops may provide enough lubrication to relieve your dry eye symptoms. Any underlying health conditions must also be diagnosed and treated. Dr. O’Day may also recommend treatments such as:
Punctal plugs are placed into your tear ducts to partially or completely stop tears from draining out of your eyes. Your plugs may consist of a substance that’s gradually absorbed into your body, or they could be made of silicone, which is removed when your symptoms improve.
Dr. O’Day may recommend these prescription eye drops that increase your body’s natural ability to produce tears.
When your dry eyes are caused by blocked meibomian glands, the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System applies heat and gentle motion to eliminate oils obstructing the gland.
This radiofrequency treatment gently heats the skin and tissues around your eyes, which improves the quality of your tears and eye comfort.
Xiidra® eye drops
Xiidra treats the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease, possibly by reducing inflammation.
Dry Eye Video Library
If you suffer from dry eyes, call Charleston Cornea & Refractive Surgery, or book an eye examination online.