Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition which affects an estimated 25 to 30 million Americans, causing the eyes to feel discomfort and irritation. It is more common in women than in men, as well as those over the age of forty. It is caused by the eye’s inability to produce enough tears (tear deficiency) or by not enough oil being produced and secreted from the oil glands in the lids, leading to increased tear evaporation. This leads to ocular surface inflammation which in turn makes the situation worsen.

Dry Eyes may cause the following signs or symptoms:

  • Eyes that feel scratchy or a burning sensation
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Increased blinking
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty with wearing contact lenses

Common causes of Dry Eye include:

  • Advanced age
  • Contact lens wear
  • Systemic medications (i.e. Beta Blockers, Anti- Depressants, Allergy medications)
  • Medical conditions (i.e. Auto-immune disease such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Sjogren’s Syndrome)
  • Eye conditions such as recurrent corneal erosions, certain corneal dystrophies, or lagophthalmos (incomplete closure of eyelids while sleeping)
  • Treatment for dry eye syndrome lies mainly in correctly diagnosing whether the underlying problem is due to tear deficiency, tear evaporation, or a combination of the two. 

Treatments may include one or more of the following based on the severity:

  •  Artificial tears or gels for mild dry eye
  • Omega-3 Fatty acids (fish oil)
  •  Lid hygiene with warm compresses and lid scrubs
  • Antibiotics to treat Blepharitis (an inflammatory condition caused by bacteria or oil gland dysfunction in the eyelids)
  • Mild ocular steroids to treat ocular surface inflammation
  • Restasis (ophthalmic emulsion eye drops) is the only FDA approved medication indicated to treat ocular surface inflammation caused by dry eye syndrome
  • Punctual occlusion (either temporary or permanent) works by partially closing the tear ducts (drainage system of the eye), allowing more natural tears to pool in the eye.
  • Intense Pulse Laser (IPL) treatment for severe oil gland dysfunction
  •  Autologous tears for severe dry eye (tears made from your own blood serum)