Dry Eyes

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Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn't have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision.  With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain into the back of the nose. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance.

Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults. People tend to make fewer tears as they age due to hormonal changes. Other conditions associated with dry eye include:

  • Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritisSjögren’s syndrome, thyroid disease, and lupus

  • Blepharitis (when eyelids are swollen or red)

  • Malposition of the eyelids

  • Smokey, windy or a very dry climates

  • Computer use, reading and other activities that reduce blinking

  • Contact lens use

  • Refractive eye surgery, such as LASIK

  • Taking certain medicines, such as:

    • Diuretics (water pills)

    • Beta-blockers, for heart problems or high blood pressure

    • Allergy and cold medicines (antihistamines)

    • Sleeping pills

    • Anxiety and antidepressant medicines

    • Heartburn medicines

Treatment of dry eye includes the use of non-prescription lubricating eyedrops, gels and ointments.  Anti-inflammatory drops may be prescribed.  Omega-3 oral supplements can also be helpful.  Punctal plugs to block the drainage of tears may  be recommended.