Persistent dryness, scratching and burning in your eyes are signs of dry eye syndrome. These symptoms alone may be enough to diagnose it. Some people also experience a “foreign body sensation,” the feeling that something is in the eye. And it may seem odd, but sometimes watery eyes can result from dry eye syndrome, because the excessive dryness works to over stimulate production of the watery component of your eye’s tears.
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture in the eye. The eye doesn’t produce enough tears, or the tears have a chemical composition that causes them to evaporate too quickly. Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common problems treated by eye physicians. Over ten million Americans suffer from this problem.
Dry eye syndrome has several causes. It occurs as a part of the natural aging process, especially during menopause; as a side effect of many medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medicines, Parkinson’s medications, and birth control pills; or because you live in a dry, dusty or windy climate. If your home or office has air conditioning or a dry heating system, that too can dry out your eyes. Another cause is insufficient blinking, such as when you’re staring at a computer screen all day.
Dry eyes are also a symptom of systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea or Sjogren’s syndrome (a triad of dry eyes, dry mouth, and rheumatoid arthritis or lupus). Long-term contact lens wear is another cause; in fact, dry eyes are the most common complaint among contact lens wearers. Dry eye syndrome makes contact lenses feel uncomfortable, and the rubbing of the lenses against the conjunctiva seems to be a cause of dry eyes.
Effective treatment begins with a careful examination to determine which factors may be causing your symptoms. The goal of treatment is to keep your eyes moist. RESTASIS® is the eye drop that helps increase your eyes’ natural ability to produce tears. This treatment is the first of its kind. Sometimes people use the eye drops that “get the red out” to treat their dry eyes. This won’t work unless the eye drops also contain artificial tears, and the original “get-the-red-out” formulation doesn’t. These drops can reduce or eliminate the redness temporarily, but they don’t treat the cause of the redness, whether it’s dryness, environmental irritation, or some other problem.
One approach to treating dry eyes is plugging the tear ducts with tiny silicone plugs (punctual plugs). These plugs close the tiny opening (punctum) that you have in inner corner of your upper and lower eyelid. It helps to keep tears in your eye from draining away as quickly. They can be inserted painlessly while you’re in our office and are normally not felt once inserted.
Call our office TODAY at 323-937-2269 to schedule consultation with Dr. Kagan to find out which treatment is best for you!