Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain into the back of the nose. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance.
People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are of a poor quality:
The tear film has three layers, oil, water, and mucus. Problems with any of these can lead to dry eye symptoms.
The top layer, oil, comes from the edges of the eyelids, where the meibomian glands produce lipids, or fatty oils. The oil smooths the tear surface and slows down the rate of evaporation. Faulty oil levels can cause the tears to evaporate too quickly.
Inflammation along the edge of the eyelids, known as blepharitis, as well as rosacea and some other skin disorders, can cause the meibomian glands to become blocked, making dry eyes more likely.
The middle layer is the thickest, consisting of water and salt. The lacrimal glands, or tear glands, produce this layer. They cleanse the eyes and wash away particles and irritants.
Problems with this layer can lead to film instability. If the water layer is too thin, the oil and mucus layers may touch each other, resulting in a stringy discharge, a hallmark sign of dry eyes.
The inner layer, mucus, enables the tears to spread evenly over the eyes. A malfunction can lead to dry patches on the cornea, the front surface of the eye.
Symptoms often indicate Dry Eye Syndrome:
- Pink, red and irritated eyes
- Itchy or scratchy eyes
- A sensation of grit under your eyelids
- Stinging or burning
- Watery eyes (dry eyes may stimulate excess tear production)
- Blurry vision
Effective Treatment to Relieve Dry Eye Irritations
We’ll evaluate the condition of your tears and eyes, as well as consider a variety of lifestyle issues, in order to recommend the best treatment for your needs. While dry eyes are generally not dangerous, they can complicate daily life and make many routine tasks into an uncomfortable experience. We’ll help restore your comfortable, clear vision.