What is Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye disease is a common ailment that affects millions of Americans. The basics of dry eye disease is a lack of tear production or a lack of quality tears. Tears are needed to lubricate the cornea of your eyes, prevent infection and removing foreign matters for your eyes. Typically, excess tears drain into the back of the nose, but with dry eye disease, there is an inconsistent balance of production and drainage.

There can be many different reasons for the lack of tear production. Tear production can lessen as you grow older, as well as external environmental conditions such as dry air or extreme cold. Tears are made up of three different layers, and dry eye disease can result if there is a vacancy in those layers. For example, meibum is the oil layer of the tear, and one cause of dry eye could be clogging of the meibomian glands.

Certain medications can cause dry eye as well as certain medical conditions such as diabetes and arthritis. Wearing contact lenses for an extended period of time can also cause dry eye disease to develop.

One of the most common symptoms of dry eye disease is a scratchy sensation in the eye. There can also be burning or stinging sensations. An excessive amount of tears or other discharge can be a symptom of dry eye disease. Other symptoms are redness in your eyes and even possibly blurred vision.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it could be time to talk with your eye doctor about treatment for dry eye disease. There are many treatment options for dry eye; some being at-home type remedies, and some being more surgical options.

Constant use of eye drops, either over the counter or prescription, could be a way to keep the eye lubricated. Lubricants can be placed under the lower eyelid which will also help keep the eyes moist. Warm compresses could be used to soften hardened meibum that is clogging the glands. Nutritional supplements can also help to prevent dry eye symptoms. A more surgical option includes plugs that are placed in the eyes to stop the flow of tears which in turn can keep the tear film intact longer. Other remedies include combinations of the above.

Dry eye disease is not uncommon but it is very treatable. Talk with your eye doctor today if you suspect you are struggling with it.

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