Dry Eye Syndrome

From the Mayo Clinic

Dry eyes is a common condition that occurs when your tears can’t provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Dry eyes can be uncomfortable, even painful.  Signs and symptoms include:  a stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes, sensitivity to light, redness, a sensation that something is in your eye, difficulty with night driving, watery eyes (which is the body’s response to the irritation of dry eyes), and blurred vision or eye fatigue.


Your tears are a mixture of water, fatty oils and mucus.  This mixture helps make the surface of your eyes smooth and clear.  It also protects your eyes from infection.  Common causes of decreased tear production include:


Aging   – Medical conditions such as: diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjorgren’s syndrome, thyroid disorders, and vitamin A deficiency.

Some medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and drugs used for high blood pressure, birth control, and Parkinson’s disease.

Wind, smoke, or dry air can cause increased tear evaporation.  So can blinking less often, which tends to occur when you are concentrating, for example, while reading, driving, or working at a computer.


For most people with occasional or mild dry eye symptoms, it’s enough to regularly use over-the-counter eyedrops (artificial tears).  Sometimes other treatment is necessary, depending on what is causing your dry eyes.  In some cases, treating an underlying health issue can help clear up the signs and symptoms of dry eyes. This may mean simply changing one of your medications.  Treatment could be as involved as surgery of the eyelids.


There are a number of prescription medications used to treat dry eyes, including those that reduce inflammation of the eyelid or cornea and tear-stimulating drugs.  There are also various procedures used to alleviate dry eyes, such as closing your tears ducts to prevent tear loss,  and unblocking oil glands.


Some people find relief from dry eyes using non-prescription products or even home remedies.  These could include eyedrops, ointments, or gels.  Daily fish oil supplements seem to relieve dry eye syndrome for some.


Talk with your doctor about your dry eyes.  Tell him about all the symptoms you are experiencing, as there may be an underlying condition that needs to be addressed.


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