What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye is one of the most common eye problems addressed at Fisher-Swale-Nicholson Eye Center. It affects 10 million Americans and counting. In addition to being uncomfortable and annoying, dry eye syndrome can also permanently harm your vision.

Why Dry Eye Syndrome Happens

Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused when the eye does not produce enough tears or when the tears that the eye produces are not “healthy.” 

Our tears have three layers: oily, watery, and mucus that act together to protect vision and keep the eye translucent, and smooth. Tears are produced one of two ways: 

  1. Slow and steady providing a constant lubrication for the eyes. 
  2. Fast and flowing due to visceral emotion or eye irritation. 

When the tear processes are interrupted that is typically when patients get dry eye. But sometimes dry eye is inevitable. For example, the older we get the more our hormones change, and the harder it becomes to develop tears. 

In other cases dry eye syndrome is caused by medical conditions such as: 

  1. Thyroid conditions 
  2. Vitamin A deficiency 
  3. Menopause 
  4. Parkinson’s disease 
  5. Sjogren’s disease 
  6. Rheumatoid Arthritis 
  7. Lupus
  8. Blepharitis (swelling of eyelids)
  9. Entropion (turned in eyelids)
  10. 10.Ectropion (turned out eyelids)

Also, certain medications can dry out the eyes. There are also everyday factors like

  1. Harsh climates (dry, wind, smoke)
  2. Staring at a screen for too long 

Even contact lens wearers or those patients who received 20/20 vision with LASIK can get dry eyes. 

Here at FSN Eye we can perform tests to determine the underlying cause of the problem. Our certified technicians will measure the production, evaporation rate, and quality of the tear film. From there your optometrist can prescribe treatment. 

Types of Treatment for Dry Eye Syndrome

The most basic form of treatment is an artificial tear but there are actually several other ways to treat dry eye including 

  1. Warm compresses 
  2. Eyelid massages
  3. Eyelid cleaners 
  4. Removable punctal plugs 
  5. Prescription drop therapy 

There are changes you can make in your diet to increase your tear supply. Try adding omega-3 fatty acids. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says that omega- 3 fatty acid reduces inflammation of the eye. There are plenty of foods and supplements that have omega-3 fatty acid in them like

  1. Fish
  2. Walnuts 
  3. Soybeans
  4. Eggs 
  5. Grass fed dairy and meat products 
  6. Hemp seeds
  7. Fish oil
  8. Flaxseed oil  

Do I have Dry Eye Syndrome?

Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome are experiencing:

  1. Burning or inflammation of the eye 
  2. Stinging 
  3. Itching 
  4. Irritation
  5. Scratchiness
  6. Stringy mucous in or around the eyes
  7. Excessive tearing 
  8. Blurred vision that only improves when you blink 

If you are dealing with any of these symptoms or feel uncertain, call our office at 815-932-2020 to schedule an appointment.