Tears are essential for good eye health, as they keep the eye moist, wash out debris, and control acidity levels. Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the tear glands do not sufficiently or properly lubricate and moisturize the eye.
Patients with dry eye syndrome experience symptoms of persistent scratchiness, intermittent blurred vision, burning sensations, and eye redness. Ironically, dry eye syndrome can cause frequent tearing—the excessive dryness can sometimes cause the tear system to over-produce watery tears as a defensive mechanism.
The normal aging process is the leading cause of dry eyes. Other causes include side effects from some medications (including some antibiotics), long-term contact lens wear, immune system deficiencies, and over-exposure to a dry, dusty climate.
Dry eye syndrome cannot be cured. Doctors can alleviate the symptoms in a variety of ways. Treatment options include the use of artificial tears (purchasable over-the-counter at any pharmacy) and/or bed-time eye ointments (tear production decreases during sleep). Closing the tear duct opening is also an effective treatment approach. Doctors use a punctum plug to temporarily close the tear duct. This approach is painless, quick, and slows the evaporation of tears.
Dry eye syndrome is a common ailment for people living in the Southwest. Our doctors are experts in treating and managing dry eyes.