This is an extremely common eye condition. Often it coexists with blepharitis.
(1) Menopause/Age: Hormonal changes can reduce tear production particularly in women.
(2) Drugs: Some medications. e.g. antidepressants can reduce tear production
(3) Immune System Disease: The most common conditions leading to this include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus.
(4) Increased Exposure: Drying conditions e.g. Air conditioning or hot dry windy conditions can lead to increased dry eye symptoms.
These can include:
(3) Blurry vision
(4) Red eyes
Reduced blinking frequency as can occur with reading, prolonged computer use, can exacerbate the effects.
(1) Reduce predisposing factors
E.g.: Avoid air conditioning – use protective eyewear in hot dry, windy conditions.
(2) Tear Supplements
These occur in 3 consistencies: – drops, gel and ointment.
the thicker the preparation, the longer it lasts. However, the thicker preparations are more likely to disrupt vision. Generally drops and gel preparations are used during the day with the ointment at night.
The most common mistake is that patients don’t used the drops sufficiently often.
Common examples of:
Drops: Optive, Systane, Systane Ultra, Systane Balance, Refresh, Genteal, Polytears, Bion Tears, Blink.
Gel: Genteal gel, Viscotears, Polygel.
Ointment: Polyvisc, Lacrilube.
(1) Dietary Supplements
Various Supplements including Fish Oil Capsules and Flax Seed Oil have been shown to increase tear production.
(2) Punctal Plugs
Here plugs are inserted into the lower tear ducts. This reduces the drainage of tears from the eye preserving the little amounts that are produced.
Initially, your doctor will insert dissolvable plugs which can last up to 3 months. If you find benefit from this, he will insert silicone plugs to provide longer relief.
(3) Anti-inflammatory Drops
In severe dry eye, a cycle of inflammation can occur which exacerbates the effects. A short course of anti-inflammatory drops can be used.
TAKE HOME POINTS:
Dry eye symptoms are extremely common.
Patient compliance is important in managing this disease which is often frustrating to the patient.