Some people do not produce enough tears to keep the eye comfortable. This is known as dry eye.
Tears are produced by two different methods. One method produces tears at a slow, steady rate and is responsible for normal eye lubrication. The other method produces large quantities of tears in response to eye irritation or emotions. Tears that lubricate are constantly produced by a healthy eye. Excessive tears occur when the eye is irritated by a foreign body or when a person cries.
Tear production normally decreases as we age. Although dry eye can occur in both men and women at any age, women are most often affected. This is especially true after menopause. Dry eye can also be associated with arthritis and accompanied by a dry mouth. People with dry eyes, dry mouth and arthritis are said to have Sjogren's syndrome.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Include:
- Stinging or burning eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Eye irritation from smoke or wind
- Excess tearing - Excess tearing from “Dry Eye” sounds illogical, but if the tears responsible for maintenance lubrication do not keep the eye wet enough, the eye becomes irritated. When the eye is irritated, the lacrimal gland produces a large volume of tears which overwhelms the tear drainage system. These excess tears then overflow from your eye.
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
A wide variety of common medications-prescription and over-the-counter-can cause dry eye by reducing tear secretion. Be sure to tell us the names of all the medications you are taking. Since some medications are often necessary, the dry eye condition may be treated with artificial tears, vitamins or the doctor may prescribe Restasis®.
Our office is a proudly accredited Dry Eye Center of Excellence! This will allow us to provide the highest quality of dry eye care using advanced ophthalmic diagnostic techniques and treatments. If you think you may suffer from dry eye talk to us at your next eye exam.