Millions of men and women in the U.S. suffer from dry eye syndrome, a chronic condition that causes persistent feelings of itchiness, scratchiness and irritation, including a “foreign body sensation,” or the feeling that something is “sticking in” your eye.
Dry eye syndrome is caused by problems with tear production, quality, or distribution and interferes with the ability of your eye to continually clear, clean, and refresh itself throughout the day. Dry eye syndrome can affect anyone, but it’s much more common among older men and women and among those with diseases like diabetes, rosacea, Sjogren’s syndrome, or allergic conjunctivitis.
It can also be caused by or exacerbated by the use of certain medications like antihistamines and antidepressants, by wearing contact lenses for long periods of time, or by certain eye surgeries.
Some people develop dry eyes from environmental causes like smoking, exposure to chemicals or pollutants, and allergens. Lifestyle factors like focusing on a computer screen for long periods of time on a daily or near-daily basis can worsen dry eyes as well.
The treatment for dry eye syndrome depends on its underlying cause. For instance, when underlying diseases play a role, treatments aimed at managing those disease may help reduce symptoms. However, if long hours spent staring a computer screen is the cause of dry eye symptoms, a change in habits including taking frequent breaks may help.
But for most people, long-term relief of dry eye syndrome involves medical treatment aimed at addressing tear production or distribution or tear film quality. Today, there are many treatment options available to relieve symptoms and prevent damage to the eye surface or cornea, including:
- Prescription eye drops, artificial tears and lubricants to help augment the eye’s natural tears or improve tear quality
- In-office procedures to “unplug” oil glands, including Lipiflow
- Procedures to insert special plugs aimed at preventing rapid evaporation of tears from the eye surface
- Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy for people with ocular rosacea
- Blephex therapy to improve blepharitis
Taking vitamin supplements to improve overall eye health and routine use of warm compresses can also help. To be as effective as possible, your treatment plan will need to be customized specifically for your unique needs and habits, so talk to your doctor about the best course of action for you.
Get the Care You Need to Prevent Serious Damage
Relieving dry eye symptoms is important for your long-term comfort, but getting immediate care for dry eye syndrome is also important to prevent corneal damage and serious eye infections that can follow.
At Florida Eye Specialists, we offer the most advanced care options for dry eye, helping patients relieve painful and irritating symptoms while improving eye health for better long-term results and clearer vision.
The first step in diagnosing and caring for dry eyes is to schedule an appointment. Call our office today at 904-564-2020 so you can help ensure your eyes stay as healthy as possible.