Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Eye Syndrome is a term used to describe the reduction in your eyes’ ability to naturally produce tears. There are over 10 million Americans who suffer from dry eyes.
Your tears are made up of three different layers: a mucous layer to help the tears cover the surface of the eye, an aqueous layer that provides moisture, and an oil layer to help prevent evaporation. When one or more of these layers break down and are imbalanced, or when your eyes simply do not produce enough tears, dry spots may appear on the surface of the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye).
Dry eye is common among older people or those who use computers, contact lenses, or certain medications such as allergy medicines. People who are exposed to excess amounts of sun, wind, dust or smoke will often suffer from dry eye syndrome as well.
Common symptoms may include itching, burning, redness, blurred vision, a scratchy sensation, excessive watering, and general irritation and discomfort after long periods of reading, watching television, or driving.
Although dry eye syndrome cannot be cured, it can be treated with lubricating eye drops or certain oral medications to help alleviate symptoms so that your vision is not affected. Using a warm compress and performing lid scrubs two to three times a day may also help relieve discomfort. After soaking the eyes with a warm, damp, clean washcloth for several minutes, use a mixture of baby shampoo and water to gently scrub the eyelids and eyelashes to help improve lid hygiene and relive your symptoms.
If you use contact lenses, it is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions on cleaning and disinfecting your lenses, since your contacts can sometimes absorb your tear film and cause a cloudy protein residue to form on the lens. Frequent use of artificial tears will help rinse the eye and provide moisture and relief.