Millions of people around the world live with a chronic eye condition called dry eye syndrome (DES). Although DES is quite common, many people don’t know much about it and are seeking answers to their uncomfortable eye condition.
Here are 7 of the most commonly asked questions and answers regarding dry eye syndrome.
1. What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
DES occurs when your eyes aren't getting the moisture they need to function at their best. The tears in your eyes are responsible for keeping them feeling fresh and your vision clear. When your tear production is disrupted, or the quality of your tears is insufficient, your eyes may feel dry and irritated. DES is most frequently a result of poor functioning of the glands in the eyelids, which produce essential oils for the tears.
2. What are the Symptoms of DES?
The main symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:
- Red, painful eyes
- Dry, irritated eyes
- Watery eyes
- Burning or stinging sensation
- Foreign body sensation
- Mucus around the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Itchy eyes
3. What are Risk Factors for Developing Dry Eye Syndrome?
You are more likely to develop dry eye syndrome if you're:
- Above the age of 50
- Very deficient in Vitamin A
- Spending several hours per day in front of a digital screen
- A smoker
Or if you have:
- A thyroid dysfunction
- An autoimmune disorder, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
4. Can Dry Eye Resolve Itself?
It really depends. If your dry eyes are caused by an external irritant or allergen, your symptoms will likely improve once the irritant is removed. Some people may only experience symptoms of dry eye syndrome in a dry climate, during allergy season, or after prolonged screen use (when people blink their eyes much less frequently), for example.
5. Is DES Permanent?
Although there are ways to manage and treat DES, it is considered a chronic condition. In many cases, symptoms may reappear if treatment stops. In other cases of DES, symptoms can be temporary, depending on the cause.
6. Is DES Harmful to Eye Health?
It can be. Severe dry eye syndrome can lead to corneal ulcers and scarring. In very rare cases, dry eye syndrome may produce partial blindness if left untreated.
7. How is Dry Eye treated?
There are several safe and effective treatments for dry eye syndrome. Treatment options will vary from patient to patient, depending on what’s causing your DES. Your optometrist will select the treatment that targets the underlying cause of your condition.
You may be prescribed medicated eye drops, lubricating eye drops, omega-3 supplements or in-office treatments to clean and/or improve the functioning of the glands in your eyelids. Speak with your optometrist about which treatment option is most suitable for you.
If you or a loved one is living with symptoms of dry eye syndrome, we can help. The Dry Eye Center of Southern Eyecare Associates provides the latest, most effective treatments for dry eye syndrome for long-lasting relief.
To schedule your dry eye consultation, call The Dry Eye Center of Southern Eyecare Associates in Norfolk today!
Our practice serves patients from Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake, Virginia and surrounding communities.
Q: What are some lifestyle choices that can help ease symptoms of dry eye syndrome?
- A: Some patients find that staying hydrated and eating more omega-3-rich foods help with DES. You may also benefit from wearing sunglasses when outdoors and using a humidifier when indoors to replenish the moisture in the air.
Q: Should I use over-the-counter eye drops for my dry eyes?
- A: There are so many eye drops at the pharmacy, so it can be hard to choose the perfect product for your eyes. If your eyes are feeling dry, head over to your local optometrist before resorting to an over-the-counter option.