Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a fairly common disorder that causes burning, itching and sometimes even tearing of the eyes. Sometime when the eye is so dry it actually overproduces tears and the profusion of tears can actually overrun the cheek. But there may be other symptoms such as redness of the eyes, blurred vision and light sensitivity. Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a quite common problem for people who are beginning to age because tears are produced less and less as the aging process continues. Oftentimes this affliction haunts women in menopause and or may be caused at any age by the blocking of the tear ducts or because of a certain medication a person is taking. Of course, environmental issues may cause this discomfort also as dust, windy weather or cigarette smoke or other pollutants may evaporate tears and bring on a dry eye condition.

This condition has had an upturn in reported cases in recent years because of the ever increasing long hours before the computer monitor by millions of users. Anyone who must continually look at the same image for hours at a time may eventually develop this condition. Testing for this condition is very simple and involves what is known as the Schirmer's test. A small bit of special paper is placed under the eyelid and left for several minutes, then tested for how much moisture is present. Certain kinds of ocular drops may also be used as a way to test tear production. These drops have a dye that can be traced with a special light as it is washed out of the eye to check for dry eye syndrome.

No what kind of doctor will you need to get the best treatment for your condition? Your regular family physician will probably send you to an ophthalmologist who is an MD that specializes in vision care. While the dry eye syndrome is not viewed as a highly serious condition, many family doctors are more comfortable referring their patients to specialist in certain situations. One of these times may be for issues of vision. Because of his or her training and experience, going to a specialist is the only action someone should take when certain medical conditions arise. Jesus has made the claim that he is the only One who can provide a way to heaven; He is a heaven specialist in His own right! "I am the way the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6)

If a person has vision insurance from his work, this kind of doctor's visit will be covered. There may be co-pay involved, but most of the cost of a visit like this, typically costing up to two hundred dollars, will be covered under most vision insurance policies. In fact, there may be coverage under regular health insurance for visits to an ophthalmologist. But your family physician may be comfortable treating this dry eye syndrome condition, and if that is true, one's health insurance will certainly cover the visit in most cases. But always check your policy handbook before making any assumptions.

Perhaps before even going to one's doctor for treatment using over the counter artificial tears might be a good first attempt to be free of this condition. There are a number of brands of artificial tears and perhaps one will work better than another. Knowing how often to use these artificial tears will just come with experimentation. Perhaps using them only once or twice a day will clear up any burning or itching that a person might have, or it may take an application every hour through the day. Be sure to read the directions on each product to see how often the solution can be used for dry eye syndrome. Try using a humidifier in the wintertime to help alleviate dry heat and limit the minutes one stays under a hairdryer.

Prescription drugs have been developed for dry eye syndrome and have been very successful in its treatment. One of the most recent additions to the medication stable for this condition is Restasis which has been getting a lot of exposure through television commercials. The medicine is not a cure for chronic dry eye syndrome. In fact, there is often a few weeks of use before there is any difference with an irritated eye but this particular medicine does not have steroids, so is better for long term treatment of an irritated eye condition. Other medications which do have steroids are better for short term relief of irritation due to lack of tears. But long term use of steroid medicines for this condition actually increases eye pressure, sometimes leading to glaucoma.

There are some in office surgical procedures that may help in the treat of this condition. Many of our tears drain down an opening of our eyelids nearest our nose sending those tears down our throat. These openings can be plugged keeping the tears in the business of lubricating the eye. The plugs can be removed quite easily, but there are also ways to permanently close the openings if the condition is severe. DES is a condition that an estimated thirty million people have and more women than men experience DES for at least brief periods of time. There is no way to prevent DES from occurring but using common sense methods of protecting the eye from pollutants can go a long way towards alleviating its symptoms.

Dry Eye Treatment

For most people, dry eye treatment can be done at home quickly, easily, and inexpensively. According to online sources, there is nothing a person can really do to completely eliminate the risk of getting dry eye syndrome, which is what the medical condition is commonly called. The eye is such a marvelous creation of God. There are so many parts that must work together to produce clear vision. But the Bible indicates that a healthy eye also affects the body and the soul. "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6: 22-23) Unfortunately, there is no known cure for DES. However, there are a few simple steps and precautions a person can take to reduce the signs and symptoms of DES. But, if DES does become a problem, the progression of dry eye treatment generally moves from home remedies and over-the-counter medications to prescription medications. In the most severe DES cases, surgery is considered an option.

DES requiring dry eye treatment is usually the result of three conditions: decreased tear production, excessive tear evaporation, and an abnormality in the production of mucus and lipids. Tears coat the eyes to keep them moist and comfortable. And they help maintain optimal vision. The protective film is actually three layers. Water, mucus, and lipids make up the eye's protective film. Closest to the cornea is a thin layer of mucus. Mucus serves to help the other aqueous layers spread consistently over the eye. A saltwater solution makes up the middle layer, which is the thickest protective layer. Basically, the middle film has two functions. First, the layer keeps the eyes moist. And dust and other foreign objects are flushed primarily by the middle layer. According to online medical sources, when a person suffers with DES it is because of a defect in the middle layer. Lipids, which are produced in oil glands located in the eyelids, make up the final layer of film. These lipids help decrease evaporation of the other aqueous layers.

Generally, dry eye treatment targets either inadequate tear production or excessive tear evaporation. Tear production is affected by several factors. Age, changes in hormone levels, and disease are some of the more common reasons given for the onset of DES. Insufficient lipids can influence tear evaporation. Some medications can also reduce tear production and cause DES. Antidepressants, antihistamines and oral contraceptives are all capable of producing DES symptoms. But there are other causes that have to be considered when planning treatment. Excessive or prolonged reading, television viewing, or tiredness can result in DES. Activities such as reading and television watching may decrease blinking of the eyelids. Decreased blinking and the inability to fully close the eyelid can increase tear evaporation. Abnormal production of mucus and lipids require dry eye treatment. If the oil glands are blocked for any reason or the secretion is two thick there may not be enough lipids to cover the aqueous layers. Therefore, excessive evaporation occurs. Infection may also result in DES.

People suffering with DES often experience a dry or scratchy sensation in the eyes. He or she may also have burning, itching, or red eyes. Blurred vision and light sensitivity are symptoms, too. Also, a person with DES may feel as though they have something in their eye. All DES symptoms may be exacerbated by such things as dry and windy conditions. Normally, dry eye treatment can be administered at home, but medical experts suggest that a person afflicted with DES seek professional help any time there is pain, blurred vision, and severe redness. According to online sources, an ophthalmologist will usually be able to make an accurate diagnosis simply by listening to the patient's complaints and a quick examination. However, the doctor may use a split lamp for a closer examination. Basically, the tests will check the quality and quantity of the tear layers. Tear break-up time can also be determined. Finally, the conjunctiva and the cornea are checked for abnormalities. In addition to the split lamp examination, dyes are used to determine whether or not DES exists. Salt content can be measured, and a blood test is used to check for the existence of any autoimmune diseases.

Again, dye treatment can be simple and inexpensive. Online self-help tips suggest using a humidifier in the home. Not surprisingly, both heating and air conditioning systems remove moisture from the atmosphere. Rapid air movement affects the eyes, too. Reducing fan speed can help. And an air purifier is useful in removing dust and other particles from the air. Hot compresses are a useful part of the dry eye treatment. Finally, try over-the-counter artificial tears, lubricating drops, and ointments. Resting the eyes is a useful remedy, too. Keep in mind, the severity of a person's DES dictates the course of treatment. If home and over-the-counter remedies don't work, a more aggressive approach is required. Stronger prescription medications can be used: drops, ointments, artificial tears, corticosteroids, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops. Antibiotics are also prescribed to fight bacterial infections. If all other treatments fail, surgery is an option. Although surgery is serious business, the procedures to eliminate DES symptoms only take a few minutes to perform. In one type of surgery, plugs may be used to impede the normal draining of tears. These plugs are quickly and easily removed. But, in severe cases of DES, the drainage ducts may be permanently blocked. Discus all possible dry eye treatment options with a medical professional.

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