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 that’s where we come in.
Here are answers to 7 of the most commonly asked questions about dry eye syndrome.
1. What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
DES occurs when your eyes chronically lack hydration. 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 and Causes 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
Dry eye syndrome can be caused by several factors, including genetics and environment. Specific causes include, but aren’t limited to:
- Certain medications
- Eye allergies
- Dysfunction of the glands in the eyelids
- Hormonal fluctuations and hormone replacement therapy
- Refractive surgery
- Extended screen usage
- Exposure to windy or dry climates
- Infrequent or incomplete blinking
- Polluted air
3. What are Risk Factors for Developing DES?
You are more likely to develop dry eye syndrome if you:
- Are female
- Are pregnant
- Are above the age of 50
- Have allergies
- Have thyroid dysfunction
- Are very deficient in Vitamin A
- Have an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- Spend several hours per day in front of a digital screen
- Live in a place with poor air quality, such as large cities
4. Can DES Go Away On Its Own?
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 DES 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. Cornea and Contact Institute of Minnesota provides the latest, most effective treatments for dry eye syndrome for long-lasting relief.
To schedule your dry eye consultation, call Cornea and Contact Institute of Minnesota in Edina today!
Cornea and Contact Institute of Minnesota serves patients from Edina, Maple Grove, Wayzata, Excelsior and surrounding communities.
- 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.
- A: There are so many eye drops at the pharmacy, so it can be hard to choose the right product for your eyes. If your eyes are feeling dry, head over to your local optometrist before resorting to an over-the-counter option.