Living in Colorado with our low humidity tends to cause many of us to suffer from a condition called Dry Eyes. For those of us wearing soft or Gas Permeable contact lenses this condition can be even worse. If you present with the classic sandy, gritty, burning sensation or even struggle with excess tearing (called Reflex tearing) you have what is known as Dry Eye Syndrome.
Overall tears function to protect and comfort our eyes. Dry Eye Syndrome typically refers to the decline of the quantity and or quality of the tears produced. The syndrome is caused when the tear glands in the upper and lower eyelids as well as the lacrimal glands and other tears secreting components in the eye do not produced enough tears or the right kind of tears. The result is redness, scratchiness, burning and irritated eyes. In more severe cases dryness can lead to irreparable scarring.
Treatments can vary. The most common form of therapy is by means of a 3-4 times per day use of artificial tears (i.e. Systane Ultra (Alcon), Soothe Xp (B-L), Optive (Allergan). Often times treatment can be by means of treating the parts of the eye (eyelids) that secretes the glue so to speak that holds the tears to the eye. Prescription medication (i.e. Doxycycline) Lid scrubs (i.e. Ocusoft) and or OTC Omega 3 fish oils can aid in improving this secretion. If ones condition is advanced enough and secondary to inflammation, a newer drug called Restasis can be utilized to help out. If the quantity of tears is inadequate a procedure called punctual plugging can be utilized.
Great success is often seen with a combination of any one of these procedures. It is the responsibity of the Doctor to decide by means of a slit lamp examination and specialized testing to determine which treatment is best for you.
Author: Dr. Kent Yount
Mountain Vista Eyecare
7761 Shaffer Parkway, Littleton CO