How to Recognize Symptoms of Dry Eye
Dry eye is a fairly common condition that can lead to discomfort and even vision loss. The eye is constantly producing tears in order to reduce friction and keep vision sharp. However, some people are not able to produce tears normally, or their tears evaporate too rapidly. When this happens, it can cause pain and vision complications. Other common terms for dry eye include dysfunctional tear syndrome, aqueous tear deficiency, lacrimal keratoconjunctivitis and keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
Although it is very uncommon for dry eye to lead to permanent blindness, if the condition is left untreated it can potentially lead to temporary blindness and severe discomfort. If inflammation occurs as a result of untreated dry eye, it can cause scars and ulcers on the cornea.
People who develop dry eye are not able to produce a normal amount of tears, and their eyes become dried out and uncomfortable. Some of the most common symptoms of dry eye include:
- Sensation that something is in the eye
- Extreme dryness followed by bouts of excessive tearing
- Vision problems that improve with eye drops
- Eye fatigue
- Stringy discharge
- Blurred vision
- Inability to wear contacts comfortably
Some people are more prone to dry eye than others, including individuals who have rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders with their connective tissue, post-menopausal women, people with a family history of dry eye and individuals who live in dry areas. Some medications can increase the likelihood of dry eye development as well, including nasal decongestants, anti-depressants and antihistamines.
There are several different treatment options for dry eye, depending on the type and cause. Your doctor may recommend one of the following:
- Punctual cautery (surgical procedure designed to close drainage holes in the eye)
- Medication (anti-inflammatory Cyclosporine can increase tear production)
- Dietary changes (Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may reduce dry eye symptoms)
- Lacrimal plugs (painless insertion of plugs in the tear drainage holes)
If you are experiencing the uncomfortable effects of dry eye symptoms, visit your eye doctor and seek treatment before the condition becomes worse and interferes with your eyesight.