The surface of our eyes is kept moist, comfortable and free of disease by multiple layers of our tear film. This tear film includes a thin layer of mucus at the surface of the eye, followed by a more watery thicker layer, and is capped with a thin layer of oil that helps keep the tear film from evaporating. When there is a change in the quantity or quality of any of these layers, we develop the chronic condition known as Dry Eye Syndrome.
People with dry eye syndrome may experience redness, blurred vision, itch, burning or stinging, and will often feel like they have sand or grittiness in their eyes. Very frequently, patients’ eyes will water too much due to reflex tear production!
There are many causes of dry eye syndrome, including but not limited to: aging and hormonal changes, medical conditions like diabetes and arthritis, certain medications, eye surgery, contact lens wear, incomplete and improper blinking.
Symptoms are often worse with lack of sleep, smoky or dusty environments, and computer use. Dry eyes are especially common in Calgary, where our climate is dry and the tears evaporate too quickly.
Due to the chronic nature of Dry Eye Syndrome, the treatment for dry eyes is ongoing and usually not “cured”. Depending on the unique type, severity and causes of your dry eyes, your doctor will discuss with you the proper treatment required. This often includes a combination of lubricating artificial tears, medicated eye drops, hot compresses, increased intake of Omega-3 vitamins, as well as lifestyle and environmental changes.
It is important to see your Doctor of Optometry to determine the right treatment modality for you.