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What is Dry Eye?

Dry Eye is a very common condition, but one that must be frequently monitored and treated to prevent more serious eye problems from developing in the future. There are many causes of dry eye, and these can be categorized into two main causes. Either the eye fails to produce a sufficient amount of tears, or the quality of the tears is poor, which causes the tears to evaporate too quickly.

Tears are made up of three components: oil, water, and mucus. In order to coat the eye effectively these components need to be perfectly balanced. If the tears are not balanced, this may lead to having poor quality tears that evaporate too quickly, and do not effectively lubricate the eye, no matter how many tears are produced!

While symptoms can vary from one patient to another, the most common symptoms are red, dry, and itchy eyes that tend to be worse at the end of the day. As contradictory as it may seem, another common symptom of dry eye is watery eyes. This happens because the poor quality tears do not properly lubricate the eye, and thus the eye tries to produce more tears.

Dry eye symptoms may include:

  • Redness.
  • Burning.
  • Pain.
  • Itchiness.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Watery eyes due to irritation.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Foreign body sensation.
  • Eye fatigue

Symptoms of dry eye are often worse in winter, at the end of the day, while driving or outside, or after extended periods of reading or computer use. Dry eye is a complex disease, and every patient experiences a unique set of symptoms. You should see your eye doctor if you are experiencing prolonged symptoms so that they can help to determine the cause for your dry eye, as well as create a unique treatment plan.

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Who is at Risk for Dry Eye?

Some factors that may make you more likely to experience dry eyes include:

  • Being over the age of 50. This is because tear production diminishes as we age.
  • A diet lacking in vitamin A.
  • Wearing contacts or having a history of refractive surgery.
  • Female patients are at higher risk for developing dry eye, and this risk is increases when there are hormonal changes in the body (contraceptives, pregnancy, menopause).

Treatment Options for Dry Eye

There are a number of treatment options for dry eye to make you more comfortable. In some instances, treating an underlying health issue can help mitigate the symptoms of dry eyes. If certain medications are causing your dry eyes, you may be switched to another medication that does not cause dry eye as a side effect. Certain prescription medications or procedures can also be used to treat dry eyes, including drugs that reduce eyelid inflammation, eye drops to control inflammation of the cornea, eye inserts that function as artificial tears, drugs that stimulate tear production, or the insertion of punctal plugs (tiny biocompatible silicone plugs) into the drainage ducts on the inner side of the eye to conserve tears.

Contact Us Today

To learn more about dry eye disease or its treatments, call us today to set up an exam at either our Staten Island or East Brunswick, NJ offices. We will be happy to assist you in any way possible.

Resources for Our Patients

Please follow these links to information for new patients, financing options, and insurance plan participation. Please do not hesitate to call our Staten Island or New Jersey offices with any questions you may have.