You don’t have to be crying or peeling onions to get tears flowing in your eyes, as tears should be continually present to lubricate, nourish and protect your eyes. When your eyes fail to produce enough tear or a poor quality of tear, you may experience keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), or dry eye syndrome. KCS is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older patients.
According to Dr. Bill Hasquet at Montana Eyecare in Helena, there are a number of causes contributing to dry eyes and can be narrowed down to either inadequate amounts of tear production or poor quality of tear composition. People with dry eyes may experience gritty, irritated, scratchy or burning eyes, a feeling of something in the eye, excess watering and blurred vision. In cases of advanced dry eyes, one may experience damage to the front surface of the eye impairing vision. The main goal for treatment of dry eyes is to maintain an adequate volume and quality of tear in the eye to minimize damage, discomfort and maximize visual performance.
The most common causes of dry eyes:
Age: Dry eyes tend to be a natural aging process with the majority of patients over the age of 65 experiencing dry eye symptoms.
Gender: Women are more likely to develop dry eye symptoms due to hormonal changes from pregnancy, use of contraceptives and menopause.
Medications: Antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and anti-depressants can all reduce tear production.
Medical Conditions: Certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems have an increased likelihood to cause dry eyes. Also, eyelid problems such as blepharitis or turning in (entropion) or out of the eyelids (ectropion) may cause dry eyes to develop.
Environmental conditions: Exposure to smoke, wind and arid climates will increase tear evaporation and diminish tear quality leading to dry eye symptoms. People who fail to blink regularly (computer users, readers) will have a diminished tear volume and symptoms.
Other: Contact lens wear, refractive surgical procedures such as LASIK and PRK may decrease tear production.
An eye exam will evaluate tear quality, quantity; blink functioning as well as discussing medications and other systemic conditions that may lead to symptoms. Once the cause is determined, your eye care provider will be better equipped to formulate a treatment plan that may include over-the-counter lubricants, prescription eye drops, lid cleansers, punctual plugs or environmental changes that may be affecting the patient’s condition.
Some simple things people can do to minimize dry eye symptoms include: blinking regularly, wearing sunglasses outdoors, increasing the humidity at home, staying hydrated and taking nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids.
Dry eyes are best diagnosed through an eye examination in order to determine the specific cause of the condition. Your eyes are precious, so take care of them. Contact Montana Eyecare today at (406)443-2121 to make an appointment. Visit montanaeyecare.com for more information.
550 North Montana Avenue
Helena, MT 59601
Montana Eye Care
At Montana Eyecare, our professional eye care staff will be happy to assist you with your vision needs. We have treatment options available for everyone. Whether you are interested in making an appointment for a LASIK consultation, have cataracts, need an annual eye exam, or just need glasses, we can help!
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