Dry Eye Syndrome
If your eyes sting, itch or burn, you may be experiencing the common signs of “dry eye.” A feeling of something foreign within the eye or general discomfort may also signal dry eye.
Dry eye describes eyes that do not produce enough tears. The natural tears that your eyes produce are composed of three layers:
- The outer oily layer, which prevents or slows evaporation of the tear film;
- The middle watery layer; which moisturizes and nourishes the front surface of the eye;
- The inner mucus layer, which helps maintain a stable tear film.
Dry eye may occur because the volume of tears produced is inadequate (we all produce fewer tears as we get older, and in some cases this can lead to dry eye symptoms). It may result because the composition of the tears has changed so that they are unstable and evaporate more quickly.
Dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process. Exposure to environmental conditions, as well as medications, such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives or anti-depressants, can contribute to the symptoms of dry eye. Dry eye can result from chemical or thermal burns to the eye.
Potentially significant vision loss can occur in severe cases. Treatment includes eye lubricants medications such as Restasis, nutritional supplements, and surgical techniques such as punctual occlusion.
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