What is dry eye syndrome?
Are you dealing with persistently dry, itchy, scratchy feeling eyes that sometimes burn? You could be suffering from dry eye syndrome, a condition that affects a quarter of patients visiting ophthalmic clinics. Fortunately, it can be easily remedies, but it’s a good idea to seek out a professional if you’re dealing with these symptoms.
What exactly is dry eye syndrome?
It’s a chronic condition where there is a lack of proper lubrication in the eye. Normally, you have a thin layer of tears that covers the eyeball. This protects the eye and allows it to stay hydrated, so if your eye is dry and that protective layer is missing, you can end up with burning, stinging and pain in the eye, as well as feeling like there’s something in your eye This chronic condition causes damage to the ocular surface and creates tear film instability. The more breakup of the tear film, the more unstable it gets. It can be very uncomfortable, but worse, it can cause long term damage.
Is Dry Eye Dangerous?
While it’s not life threatening (as long as there is no underlying life threatening disease), dry eye syndrome can cause serious damage and discomfort. It may cause you pain and discomfort in your eyes, affecting your quality of life, but it can also cause visual problems. You won’t usually go blind from dry eye, but it may make it difficult to see clearly. You should always see your doctor as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?
The first noticeable symptom, of course, is feeling like your eyes are dried out. You may actually find that your eyes water or tear up constantly, which may seem the opposite of dry. However, these tears are simply the watery component of tears and don’t actually help much with lubrication. The liquid is meant to flush out foreign objects, but what you really need at this point is lubrication.
Other symptoms include:
• Scratchy feeling
• Burning sensation
• Feeling of something in the eye
• Blurred vision
Dry eye is a symptom of what?
It’s actually not a symptom, it is a condition that causes the above symptoms.
What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
There are various causes for this condition, including:
• Aging (post-menopausal women are at greater risk)
• Extensive reading
• Exposure to dry environments
• Long hours staring at a computer screen
• LASIK eye surgery
• Radial Keratotomy
• Refractive type surgeries
• Hormone therapy
• Air from a fan, heater or the wind
• Certain medications
• Using contact lenses too long
• Lack of blinking
You are far more likely to develop dry eye syndrome if you’re female, though men do get it, as well. Women who are dealing with changing hormones, such as during pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy and menopause tend to be at risk.
Certain diseases can also put you at higher risk. People who suffer from systemic diseases, including:
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Sjogren’s Syndrome
Anything that compromises your immune system like these diseases, as well as chronic allergies, may cause dry eye, as well. Is dry eye an autoimmune disease? It’s not, but common autoimmune diseases as mentioned above can cause it.
Is Dry Eye an Infection?
It is not. It is the irritation of the eye, caused by assorted factors, as previously mentioned.
Is Dry Eye Curable?
This chronic condition is not curable, but it can be managed, as shown below.
Is Dry Eye Permanent?
Dry eye is chronic, so it can be ongoing, but it is not necessarily permanent. Where possible, you can reduce environmental causes and there are treatments to manage the irritation. These treatments provide relief to the patient. So, is dry eye reversible? Not exactly, but it can be treated.
What is the Treatment for Dry Eye Syndrome?
First treatment to try is artificial tears. There are drops that can actually stimulate the eye to produce more lubricating tears (Restasis), while other drops simply do the lubricating for you (Xiidra). If these don’t work, the condition may progress to the point of requiring surgery.
According to recent research, one of the best methods for easing the pain caused by this condition is the use of scleral lenses. Where regular contact lenses only provide clear vision for a specific, limited period of time, scleral lenses are different.
Scleral lenses are custom made to fit your eye. They actually hold a reservoir of sterile saline solution between the lens and the cornea, to ensure constant hydration. Not only do the lenses keep the eyes hydrated, they also protect the eye from friction caused by blinking or dust. The liquid also negates any irregularities in the corneal surface, making them extremely comfortable.
You most likely won’t even feel the lenses while wearing them.
Is Dry Eye Chronic?
In most cases, dry eye is a chronic condition, unless there is something curable causing it. For
example, an acute or temporary disease or an environmental or other external factor that can be
changed to provide relief.
Is Dry Eye a Disease? Is Dry Eye Contagious?
While dry eye syndrome IS a disease, it’s not contagious.
The condition is often caused by environmental factors, however, so it is possible that more than one person in the same family or environment will also suffer from the condition.
If you suspect you have dry eye syndrome, don’t wait until you suffer from long term damage.