Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by insufficient tear production. The lack of lubrication on the surface of the eye results in irritation and inflammation. People with dry eye syndrome either do not produce enough tears or produce poor quality tears. This is a chronic condition for many individuals, especially older adults.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eyes are caused by insufficient tear production and poor tear drainage. Tear production can diminish due to age, use of certain medications, or as a side effect of a medical condition. When fewer tears are produced or the tears evaporate too quickly, dry eye syndrome is the result.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome

People who suffer from dry eye syndrome experience a variety of annoying and uncomfortable symptoms, including: 

  • Persistent dryness 
  • Burning sensation in the eyes 
  • Feeling of grit or dirt in the eyes 
  • Scratchy, itchy eyes 
  • Blurry vision 
  • Impaired vision

It may seem counterintuitive, but another symptom of dry eye syndrome is watery eyes. The excessive dryness actually prompts overproduction of the water component of tears.

Causes of dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome has many causes, including: 

  • Age: Tear production naturally decreases with age, which is why dry eye tends to affect older adults.
  • Medications: Certain medications can inhibit tear production, including antihistamines, blood pressure medication, oral contraceptives, and antidepressants. 
  • Medical conditions: Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, blepharitis, thyroid problems, and other conditions can reduce tear production. 
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to smoke and wind can quickly dry out eyes.
  • Refractive surgery: Dry eye syndrome is also a potential side effect of refractive surgery procedures like LASIK.

Treatment of dry eye syndrome

The goal of dry eye treatment is to restore sufficient tear production to maintain the health of the eyes and reduce discomfort. Treatments for dry eye syndrome include: 

  • Artificial tears 
  • Ointments 
  • Punctal plugs 
  • Medications (including Restasis) 
  • Sunglasses (to keep out wind and dust)

If you are suffering from dry eye syndrome, visit your eye care professional for and examination and treatment.


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