Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome accounts for perhaps the greatest frequency of visits to the ophthalmologist among patients with non-visual complaints. Most people are not aware of how important an adequate tear film is to the proper functioning of the eye. The tear film is made up of three parts: a water-like portion, an oily layer and a mucus-like component. If any of these is defective, either in quantity or quality, a patient can experience annoying symptoms. For example, a deficiency in the water component can produce a burning sensation, a gritty or sandy feeling or blurry vision. A defect in the oily layer can cause increased sensitivity to light and/or wind and may even produce symptoms of “watery eyes” due to in increase in reflex tears.

In the past, treatment for dry eye syndrome consisted mainly of artificial tear supplements. However, a variety of other treatments are now available, and at Ophthalmology Associates, we are trained and experienced in these treatments. New medications are available, and in some cases, we may recommend that small silicone plugs be placed in the tear duct. This painless and simple office procedure can result in significant improvement in patients who previously felt that nothing could be done to alleviate their chronic irritation.

How are dry eyes treated?

This condition is usually treated with over the counter artificial tears and/or ointments. A prescription drug may improve the production of tears. Closing the puncta (the tiny openings in the eyelids that normally drain the tears) may also improve symptoms.