The eye depends on the constant moisture and lubrication provided by tears in order to maintain vision and comfort. Tears are a combination of water, oils, mucus and antibodies that provide the eye with evenly spread moisture for comfort and are a defense against infection. They are secreted from glands located around the eye, and when this system is not in balance, a person may experience dry eyes.
Symptoms of dry eyes may include:
- Light sensitivity
- A gritty sensation
- A feeling of a foreign body or sand in the eye
- Blurring of vision
In some instances of dry eye, a patient may experience excess tears running down the cheeks. This occurs when tears are not lubricating the eye properly. Glands produce excess fluid to compensate for dryness in the eye; however, if the fluid does not have the right balance of oils, the eye will continue to be dry and scratchy in spite of the excess tears being produced.
Other causes of dry eye include:
- The natural aging process; women can especially suffer from dry eye during menopause
- Side effects of certain medications such as birth control, antihistamines or anti-depressives
- Diseases that affect the body’s ability to produce tears
- Structural problems of the eye
Though dry eye cannot be cured, there are a number of options to relieve the symptoms. Before starting any treatment, you should consult your University Eye Specialists, P.C. doctor to determine which treatment will be most beneficial to you.
Treatments discussed may include:
- Artificial tear drops and ointments
- Punctal occlusion, which begins with a temporary collagen plug placed in the tear duct, a painless procedure that prevents tears from draining out of the eye; if successful in eliminating symptoms, a permanent version of the plug is placed into the ducts