A Brief Look at Dry Eye

An optometrist in Milpitas, California, since 1986, Dr. Sophie Dao helps patients with a broad range of eye-related issues, from routine examinations and prescriptions for corrective lenses, to treatment of various infections and disorders, including glaucoma, and allergies. In addition, Dr. Sophie Dao treats patients with dry eye syndrome, a disorder she has studied in depth and about which she has written articles and made presentations.

Dry eye is a condition that occurs when a person’s tears are insufficient to meet the eyes’ moisture needs, or when the quality of tears is inadequate. Dry eyes are uncomfortable, and they often sting or burn. Treatments vary and can include eye drops, lifestyle change, and, in some cases, surgery.

There are several symptoms associated with dry eye, but not all are present in every case. These include a stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in one or both eyes; stringy mucous in or around the eyes; increased sensitivity to smoke, wind, or light; redness; difficulty wearing contact lenses; a feeling that there’s something in the eye; periodic excessive tearing; and blurred vision, especially near day’s end.

Dry eye is caused in some people by an imbalance in the composition of their tears, a complex combination of water, fatty oils, and mucus. In others, it is caused by an insufficient quantity of tears. Other factors, including medications, problems with eyelids, and environmental factors such as pollution can also contribute to dry eye. In addition, tasks that require such concentration that a person blinks less frequently, such as driving or operating a computer, can also contribute to dry eye. Dry eye is also more prevalent in older people.

Adding tears is a common treatment for dry eye, either by use of over-the-counter artificial teardrops or prescription eye drops that stimulate the production of tears. Another approach is to keep tears in the eye longer by locking the tear ducts through which excess tears are drained. If the dry eye is being caused by an inflammation of the eye’s surface, or the eyelid, treatment of that problem generally will relieve the symptoms of dry eye.

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