Dry Eye Syndrome (DES). Symjptoms, Causes and Treatment
A dry eye syndrome is often associated to the lack of moisture on the surface of the eyes. It is referred under the medical term as “keratitis sicca” which means a reduction of quantity tears being produced by the eyes, resulting in a drying effect.
Dry eye syndrome symptoms
Here are the usual symptoms shared by patients diagnosed with dry eyes:
- Excessive dryness usually affecting the cornea and conjunctiva.
- Foreign body sensation (the feeling of something inside the eye).
- Excessive tearing.
- Blurred vision or vision fluctuation.
The general causes of dry eyes syndrome
There are many causes of the dry eye syndrome and below are some of the examples:
- Part of the aging process.
- Women in or about the menopausal stage are mostly affected.
- Certain medicines could result in the drying effect like antihistamines, antidepressants, medicines intended to treat various levels of blood pressure.
- Medicines taken by individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
- Diabetes or Thyroid disease, even if controlled with medication
- Women who are taking contraceptive pills are more prone.
- Environmental factors such as dry, dusty or windy atmosphere.
- Individuals who are mostly confined in rooms with air conditioning or dry heating system
- Side effect of some systemic diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ocular rosacea or Sjogren’s syndrome).
- Prolong usage of contact lenses.
- Abnormalities on one’s eyelid structure like incomplete closure of eyelids, eyelid disease or a deficiency in tear production.
Common treatments for dry eyes
Your dry eye doctor will first assess the amount of tears in your eyes before providing you a specific cure for dry eyes. The usual test in the past to measure the quality and quantity of tears secreted by a person is called the “Schirmer’s test”. But now we also have devices such as Tearlab device to check tear osmolarity and Lipiview device to check the Lipid layer of tear film. Once, diagnosed with this condition, the following treatments are suggested to the patient:
- Use of artificial tear solutions or prescription eye drops called “Restasis”.
- Punctal plugs are temporarily put to the affected eye to observe if this procedure will keep moisture in the eye. If found to be effective, permanent punctal plugs are inserted to the patient’s eye(s). This painless procedure should only be performed by an eye specialist.
- Wearing of specialized sunglasses like those made by Dioptics is advised to the patient. These types of eyeglasses are made with foam-lined frames to prevent any dust, wind and other particles from entering the eyes.
- Lacrisert is another alternative procedure to treat the dry eye syndrome wherein a tiny insert filled with lubricating component (hydroxypropyl cellulose) is put inside the lower eyelid to lubricate the eyes.
- For severe cases of dry eye symptoms where punctual plugs are not effective, punctal cautery is performed to close the tear ducts.
- Lipiflow a in office procedure that warms, massages and pulses to relieve the thick oil plugs in the eyelids so new oil can be produced more effectively.
Persistent dryness of the eyes should be monitored to avoid further complications to the eyes. Follow your eye doctor’s professional advice if found to have acquired this type of eye problem. Remember, there is an appropriate cure for every illness if early detection and consultation with the medical experts is done at the soonest possible time.