Chronic Dry Eye is a common condition caused by the eyes not producing sufficient tears to adequately lubricate the eyes or producing poor quality tears. Symptoms include a burning or stinging sensation, redness, light sensitivity, a stringy mucus around the eyes, blurred vision, watery eyes, and difficulty wearing contact lens or driving at night. Chronic dry eye affects millions of Americans and is one of the most common complaints seen by eye care professionals.
Chronic Dry Eye can affect the quality of life for those who have it and, if left untreated, can cause eye infections and damage to the surface of the eyes. The resulting localized inflammation of both the eye surface as well as the tear-producing glands over time can decrease the eye’s ability to produce tears which protect the surface and keep it lubricated and can cause damage to the eye’s surface. Severe forms of the condition can lead to increased risk of infection and possibly vision impairment.
If a patient reports that their eyes feel dry or that they are using artificial tears frequently throughout the day, the doctor may do one or more tests to measure for moisture content, tear coating or damage to the ocular surface. Treatment options for patients experiencing chronic dry eye include artificial tears, medication, oral supplements, occlusion of tear outflow, and serum tears.
Those who have Chronic Dry Eye can prevent or lessen symptoms by using lubricating eye drops regularly, avoiding smoke and air blowing into their eyes, wearing wrap-around sunglasses or other protective eyewear, and taking frequent breaks when reading, working on the computer or doing other tasks that are tiring to the eyes.