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Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)

When you blink, a film of tears spreads over the eye, making the surface of the eye smooth and clear. Without this tear film, good vision would not be possible. Dry eyes result when people don’t produce the right quality or amount of tears to keep their eyes comfortable and healthy. Normally the eye is constantly bathed in tears. The eye stays comfortable and moist, and produces tears when necessary. People with Dry Eye Syndrome do not produce enough good quality tears.
 
Sometimes people don't produce enough tears or the right quality of tears to keep their eyes healthy and comfortable. This condition is known as dry eye. The tear film consists of three layers:
•  An oily layer;
•  A watery layer;
•  A layer of mucus.
 
Symptoms of Dry Eye

Dry eyes feel uncomfortable. Dry eye can be itchy and irritating. If you have dry eyes, your eyes may sting or burn. You may experience dry eyes in certain situations, such as on an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, while riding a bike, after looking at a computer screen for a few hours, or upon waking in the morning.
 
 Symptoms, which usually affect both eyes, may include:
•  A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
•  Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
•  Increased eye irritation from smoke or wind
•  Eye fatigue
•  Sensitivity to light
•  Eye redness
•  A sensation of having something in your eyes
•  Difficulty wearing contact lenses
•  Periods of excessive tearing
•  Blurred vision, often worsening by prolonged focusing or by end of the day
 
Causes of Dry Eyes
 
There are many causes of dry eyes, but most cases are due to Aqueous Tear Deficiency (ATD) and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). Eyelid problems, medications, and other causes, such as environmental factors, also can lead to dry eyes. Inform Dr. Tracy if you are on any medication for high blood pressure, beta-blockers, antihistamines, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications, or pain relievers. These medications, whether prescribed or over the counter, can cause or contribute to dry eyes.
 
Environmental conditions such as dry, windy air or being in a room with air conditioning or a fan can also cause dry, irritated eyes. Tasks that require concentration resulting in blinking less often, such as working at a computer or driving, can cause dryness and irritation as well.

Poor Tear Quality – The tear film has three basic layers: oil, water, and mucus. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eye symptoms.

Decreased Tear Production – People who usually experience decreased tear production are older than 50, have tear gland damage, have a medical condition that reduces tear production, or have had any type of eye surgery in the past.

Eyelid Problems – If you have an eyelid problem that makes it difficult to blink, tears may not be spread across your eye adequately or your tears may evaporate too quickly, causing dry eyes.
 
Each layer has its own purpose. The oily layer, produced by the meibomian glands, forms the outermost surface of the tear film. Its main purpose is to smooth the tear surface and reduce evaporation of tears.

The middle watery layer makes up most of what we ordinarily think of as tears. This layer, produced by the lacrimal glands in the eyelids, cleanses the eye and washes away foreign particles or irritants.

The inner layer consists of mucus produced by the conjunctiva. Mucus allows the watery layer to spread evenly over the surface of the eye and helps the eye remain moist. Without mucus, tears would not stick to the eye. Normally, the eye constantly bathes itself in tears. By producing tears at a slow and steady rate, the eye stays moist and comfortable.
 
 
Normally, the eye bathes itself in tears. By producing tears at a slow and steady rate, the eye stays moist and comfortable.

The eye uses two different methods to produce tears. It can make tears at a slow, steady rate to maintain normal eye lubrication. It can also produce a lot of tears in response to eye irritation or emotion. When a foreign body or dryness irritates the eye, or when a person cries, excessive tearing occurs.

It may not sound logical that dry eye would cause excess tearing, but think of it as the eye's response to discomfort. If the tears responsible for maintaining lubrication do not keep the eye wet enough, the eye becomes irritated. Eye irritation prompts the gland that makes tears (called the lacrimal gland) to release a large volume of tears, overwhelming the tear drainage system. These excess tears then overflow from your eye.
 
Contact A Dry Eye Expert Today

Dry eye is extremely common and can effect anyone. If you suffer from dry eye, please do not hesitate to make an appointment with a board certified specialist. For more information on dry eye syndrome, or to book an appointment with Dr. Tracy, please call (760) 603-9910.
 
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Suite 210
Carlsbad, CA 92011
P (760) 603-9910
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