Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dry Eye

Dry eye is a very common problem that affects millions of people. It results from an imbalance in the quality or quantity of tears bathing the eye. Dry eye is often a normal part of the aging process and occurs more frequently in women due to hormonal changes.

In addition to aging changes, other causes include ocular inflammation, eyelid abnormalities, environmental conditions, injuries to the eye, and general health problems. Sun, wind, cold, indoor heating and air conditioning, extended computer work, high altitudes, and eye surgery can be factors. People with arthritis as well as contact lens wearers are more prone to dry eye. Medications that decrease tear production such as decongestants, antihistamines, diuretics, sleeping pills, antidepressants, drugs for heart disease, ulcer remedies, chemotherapies, and beta-blockers can also contribute to dry eye.

The severity and symptoms of dry eye vary from person to person. Most people who suffer from dry eye notice irritation of the eye typically described as a foreign body, scratchy, or burning sensation. They may also experience redness, sensitivity burning sensation. They may also experience redness, sensitivity to light, contact lens intolerance, and decreased vision. Tearing is very common because the eyes are producing excess tears to keep the surface wet.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for dry eye, but symptoms can be treated.

Lubrication with over-the-counter artificial teardrops or ointments is the mainstay of dry eye therapy. For mild symptoms, these drops may be applied several times a day. In more severe cases, requiring artificial tear application more than four times per day, nonpreserved tears should be used since some individuals may develop a sensitivity to the preservatives in the generic teardrops.

There are many different teardrop preparations, which one works best for you is a matter of personal preference. Thicker drops and lubricating ointments have a longer duration of action in relieving symptoms, but they tend to blur the vision more.

If lubrication is not effective enough, small plugs can be placed in the tear drainage channels of the eyelids to allow your own tears to last longer. This is a simple, painless, reversible procedure that can be performed quickly in your ophthalmologist’s office.

Restasis eye drops, the only FDA-approved medication for dry eye, is often very effective. Steroid eye drops can also be helpful depending on the underlying cause of the dry eye condition. Other specialized measures to control symptoms include the use of a humidifier, moisture chamber goggles, or taping the lids closed at bedtime.

With the available treatments and new ones in development, you should not suffer because of dry eyes. So, if lubricating drops do not work well enough, you should consider seeing a specialist to explore some of the other options.

Blog: courtesy of our guest blogger and opthalmologist, Dr. Neil Friedman.

Photo: courtesy of patient.co.uk


Sara Peymanpour said...

Dear Dr. Razavi,

I just found your blog from Google's official blog and I read some of your posts. I really liked that post about love and its effects! It is amazing :)
Can we ask our medical questions here as well? I'm not a google employee in fact.
Thanks :)


Dr. Taraneh Razavi said...

Hi Sara

I can only answer general medical questions. I can not comment on patients whom I have not seen or examined. If you have any topics that you would like me to write about then please let me know.

Sara Peymanpour said...

Dear Dr. Razavi,

Thank you for your answer. In this case would you please write about neck and shoulder pain that occures because of wrong sitting posture in front of the computer? Whenever you had time :)

Sara :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr Razavi,

I am a medical student from England. I was wondering if you received a letter that I sent you last week.

Please could you let me know at mda03rt@sheffield.ac.uk

Thank You

Dr. Taraneh Razavi said...

Hi Sara

I wrote about this subject a while back. One of these days I will get categories on my blog to make finding subjects easier. Here's the link to the ergonomic post. Let me know if it is helpful or not.

Anonymous said...

In the summer of 2000, I had a really bad case of Conjuntivitis. The doctor prescribed TobraDex (a steroid drop) because my eye was so swollen. After a week of TobraDex, I saw an explosion of floaters inside the infected eye. My eye doctor dialated my eye, but could not see a cause for the floaters. I also had pain in what felt like the back of my eye ball, and was told I had dry eye syndrome in that one eye... a condition that I did not have before. (Note: I only used TobraDex in the infected eye even though I was told to use it in both eyes.) Unfortunately, the pain, inflammation, and dry eye never went away. For seven years I have been dealing with dry eye in that one eye only. No doctor will confirm that, yes, the steroid drops caused permant dry eye, but I believe that it did in my case. In fact, I believe some damage was done somewhere in or around my eye, as I still have localized pain in the back of my eye. HOWEVER, I think after all this time, I may have found some relief. I tried Restasis for 6 full months, but that really had little if any effect. (And you probably have guessed that I won't try steroid drops!) I had a plug inserted in the dry eye, and to my surprise, it had little effect as well. I've been taking fish oil, with some sucess, but I still had really bad "dry eye days". About 3 weeks ago, I started taking Turmeric (450 mg - twice a day) and I have not had a bad dry eye day since! So I'm hopeful that I won't...
Thanks for letting me share. (Sorry it's so long!)

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happy said...

Funny that it's good to see tears in your eyes:)
Good post:) Thanks

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mmouth said...

I found this product call Nature's Tears Eye Mist it's an over the counter product I am simple amazed at the relief this products gives to my dry eye symptoms I recommend if you haven't heard of you might want to try it out I also found a website with excellent information www.naturestears.com

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chronic dry eyes said...

Chronic Dry eyes develop due to the eyes not producing adequate amount of tears. There are many symptoms of chronic dry eyes which includes itchiness, prickliness, sensitiveness to light, blurry eyesight, dryness etc.It develops as your age grows, menopausal phase or medical disorders. Turbulent weather conditions, smoke, air-conditioners and heaters, constant wear of contact lenses can increase the risk of dry eyes.