WHAT IS DRY EYE?
Tears hydrate, protect, and prevent infection of the eye. The human eye is lubricated by tears which are a combination of water, oil, and mucous produced by glands in the upper and lower eyelids. A lack of any of these components results in a condition known as Dry Eye Disease (DED).
2 Common Types of Dry Eye
- Evaporative -Lack of lipids in tears and tear film
- Aqueous – Lack of water in tears and tear film
Dry eye patients are unique in that their individual case could be related to any combination and number of direct and underlying causes. Helping your eye doctor to narrow down if your dry eye is evaporative or aqueous would be the First step. If your eye doctor offers a dry eye survey, complete it. Your answers are 50% of the work to determine your diagnosis. Your eye doctor can then determine the tests they may want to run. Here are a few types:
- Staining tests — lissamine green, rose bengal and fluorescein staining show where the mucin is no longer protecting the surface of your eye.
- TBUT (Tear Break Up Time) know your TBUT. This is the time between your last blink and the first spot on your eye to dry under what is called a slit lamp. This is usually performed with a drop of fluorescein dye to clearly identify the dry spot.
- Paper strip and thread tests measure your tear wetting & tear volume.
- Other testing — hand-held tear readers.
CAUSE OF DRY EYES
- General aging
- Computer Vision Syndrome – Heavy daily computer use
- Auto-immune diseases – Such as: Sjogren’s Syndrome, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s disease
- Eye surgery – Dry eye may result post surgically. e.g. lasik, cataract surgery.
- Environment – Smoke, dry weather, windy, heating, Fans, dehumidifiers, and work conditions
- Medications – Antihistimines, decongestants, pain relievers, antidepressants, diuretics, and alcohol
- Contact lenses – Dry eye is the leading cause of contact lens discomfort
- Menopause – Natural hormone shifts
- Eyelids stuck together upon awakening
- Dry sensation
- Light sensitivity
- Contact lens discomfort
- Sticky lid sensation
- Contact lens solution sensitivity
- Lid infections/sties
- Tired eyes
- Excess tearing (watery eyes)
- Mucous discharge
- Irritation from wind or smoke
- Scratchy, gritty feeling
Once your eye doctor understands what may be triggering your dry eye symptoms, he or she can consider any combination of treatments for effective relief based on your individual dry eye diagnosis. Here are a few possibilities to consider asking your doctor about: