Dry eye is a condition that causes a patient to feel as though there is a continuous irritant in their eye(s). One of the single most common symptoms of dry eye is excessive tearing caused by the eye to compensate for their dryness and the discomfort is caused by inability of the eye to produce adequate tears. The eye requires a tear film to help protect it and allow for proper vision. A normal healthy eye is covered by a thin tear film that as acting as a barrier allowing you to see clearly.
There are a number of variables that could potentially lead to dry eye(s). A persistent irritant to an eye may cause the eye to become dry, patients who wear contact lenses often develop dry eye after continuous wear. Other causes of dry eye are related to your living/work environment and lifestyle. The causes are not always easily definable but the symptoms are noticeable.
Dry eye patients tend to have the following symptoms:
- Scratchy or irritated eyes
- Heightened sensitivity to wind or smoke
- Light sensitivity
- Decreased vision
- Trouble focusing on an object or reading
If you think you may be suffering from dry eye, you should make an appointment to visit your ophthalmologist. You will be asked a series of questions about your work/living environment, lifestyle and diet. A tear production test will be used to determine the dryness and the location of the dryness in your eye.
A variety of treatments are offered for dry eye including eye drops, eye ointments, punctal plugs, and changes in your lifestyle. Traditional treatments can help eliminate the dryness but may not help with the actual tear composition causing the dryness. Studies are constantly performed to look for better treatments for dry eye.