When you have dry eye, your eyes can’t eliminate irritants like dust. This can cause an array of unpleasant symptoms.
What Is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a condition where you don’t produce enough tears to nourish and lubricate your eye. You need tears to maintain the health of your eye’s front surface and to be able to see clearly. It is a common condition, especially in older adults, according to the American Optometric Association.
Every time you blink, tears spread across your eye’s front surface (cornea). The tears lubricate your eyes and help to:
Wash away foreign particles in your eyes
Decrease your risk of eye infection
Keep your eyes’ surface clear and smooth
Your eyes’ excess tears flow into the tiny drainage ducts in the inner corners of your eyelids, and the drainage goes back into the back of your nose. When the production of your tears and the drainage aren’t in balance, dry eye occurs.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
Symptoms of dry eye often impact both the eyes and may include:
Sensitivity to light
A burning, scratchy or stinging sensation in your eyes
Stringy mucus around or in your eyes
Eye fatigue or blurred vision
Troubles wearing contact lenses
A sensation you have something in your eyes
Troubles with nighttime driving
What Are the Causes of Dry Eye?
A lack of sufficient tears causes dry eye. Your tears are a complex combination of mucus, fatty oils, and water which make your eyes’ surface clear and smooth, protecting your eyes from infection.
For some individuals, a decrease in tear production can cause dry eyes. For others, it’s an imbalance in your tears’ makeup and an increase in tear evaporation.
How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?
If your eyes start feeling dry and you find you can’t see very well all of a sudden, you’ll want to give our office here at Great Lakes Optometry a call and set up an appointment with our optometrist in Sault Ste Marie, MI, Dr. Thomas Choponis, O.D.
After you describe your symptoms, he’ll likely have you undergo some testing that will examine how much tears your eyes have. These tests usually involve things like:
Exam of your tears
Dr. Choponis will use a dye for the test, such as fluorescein, in order to make your eyes’ tear film more visible.
He may use a Schirmer’s test to measure how fast your eyes make tears. This tests the production rate of your tears using a paper wick he places on the edge of the lid of your eye.
What Is the Treatment for Dry Eye?
There are numerous treatment options, including:
1. Artificial Tear Ointments and Drops
These are common treatments with most being available over the counter. If you’re suffering from chronic dry eye, you’ll need to continue using the drops even if your eyes don’t feel dry or else they won’t remain wet sufficiently. If your eyes become dry when you’re sleeping, you can use the ointment which is thicker and creates a mini “moisture chamber” for your eyes.
2. Temporary Punctal Occlusion
Dr. Choponis may decide to close the duct that drains your tears from your eyes. He may begin with a temporary plug made for dissolving over time. Depending on how this works, he’ll know if permanent plugs will help.
This is a medical device that uses pressure and heat to unclog your eyelids’ blocked glands. These glands are what makes the oil in your tears, which prevents your tears from evaporating and keeps your eyes moist.
Contact Great Lakes Optometry to Schedule your Appointment
If you are suffering from dry eye and would like to know if you need treatment, call us at (906) 635-9600 or visit us online to schedule an appointment. We also provide comprehensive eye exams, children’s vision testing, laser vision correction consultations, developmental vision exams, and diabetic eye exams.
Your Optometrist in Sault Ste. Marie
128 W Spruce St W Ste 1
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783