Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions affecting the general population. The ramifications of dry eye can range from mildly irritating to debilitating. Although many different factors can cause dry eye, the primary driving force is an issue of tear film stability.
What is the tear film? The tear film is a lipid-water-mucous layer that covers the front of the eye. Each time you blink, tears are released from glands lining the eyelids onto the front surface of the eye. A smooth, stable tear film is necessary for stable, clear vision and comfortable, healthy eyes.
Why does the tear film need to be stable? The tear film is the first thing light hits when entering the eye, giving the tear film a very important role in the clarity and stability of your vision. If light comes in contact with a smooth, stable tear film, it can enter the eye clearly. If light comes in contact with a disrupted, unstable tear film, the light scatters and vision becomes distorted and blurry.
Signs & symptoms of dry eye:
foreign body sensation (feeling like something is in the eye)
mattering/caking along eyelids and lashes
How is dry eye diagnosed? Dry eye can be diagnosed during a routine eye exam. Through specialized testing, your doctor will be able to assess the eyes for signs of dryness. In addition to signs of dryness detected during your exam, discussing the symptoms you may be experiencing with your doctor can help formulate a treatment plan that is right for you.
How is dry eye treated? Treatment for dry eye can vary depending on what is causing the dryness. Dry eye can be caused by multiple factors:
Eyelid gland dysfunction
Inflammation on the ocular surface
Extended computer use
Contact lens wear
Sleeping with eyes open
Improper eyelid position
Previous eye surgery
Depending on why the eyes are dry, a few different treatment options may be recommended. Treatment can include artificial tears, gels and/or ointments, warm compresses and/or lid scrubs for the eyelids, and prescription eye drops. Dry eye is a multifactorial disease and therefore requires a personalized treatment plan.
If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, Williams Eye Works recommends scheduling an eye exam for further assessment. Click here to schedule an appointment online, or give us a call us at 718-273-5000.