Dry eye syndrome, also called Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or xerophthalmia, refers to a lack of lubrication and moisture in the eye. This is mainly due to a decrease in the tear production or an increase in the tear film evaporation. The typical symptoms of dry eye syndrome are burning and a subtle but constant eye irritation. The condition may also lead to inflammation of the frontal eye tissue.
There are several factors that may bring about dry eye syndrome. The condition is more common with older age, since tear production decreases with age. Dry eye as a syndrome may occur as a side effect of many medications. Harsh environmental conditions, such as a dusty or windy climate, may worsen the condition. Even your workplace environment, comprising of air conditioning or a dry heating system, may easily dry out your eyes. Insufficient blinking, such as, when constantly staring at a monitor screen, is another significant cause of dry eye syndrome.
The basic treatment for dry eye syndrome is to replenish the moisture content of the eye surface. To accomplish this, the ophthalmologist typically prescribes artificial tears, which are lubricating eye drops that aid in alleviating the symptoms of irritation and burning sensation in the eyes. Another treatment that goes one step further involves the application of Restasis (cyclosporine) eye drops, which effectively enhance tear production. A healthy diet, comprising of a sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids, lowers the chances of contracting dry eye syndrome. Salmon, sardine, herring, and cod liver oils are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Patients wearing contact lenses need to take an extra precaution prior to the application of artificial tears. Specifically, it is necessary that the patient removes the contact lenses before using the eye drops. Moreover, the patient needs to wait 15 minutes or longer for the medicinal drops to take effect, and only after that can the contact lenses be worn again.
Dry eye syndrome is slightly more common in women than in men. A shocking 10-14 million people in the United States suffer from dry eye syndrome. The condition is more prevalent among those older than 40 years. An estimated 75% of the old-aged population shows signs of dry eye syndrome.
If you suffer from any of the above explained symptoms that depict the dry eye syndrome, please visit your doctor as soon as possible to avoid any complications.