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Dry Eye

Dry eye is a common condition in which the eyes are insufficiently lubricated, leading to itching, redness and pain. The eyes can become dry and irritated because the tear ducts are not producing a sufficient number of tears, or because there is a chemical imbalance in the tears themselves. Natural tears require a particular chemical balance to lubricate the eyes efficiently.
Alleviating the symptoms of dry eye is important. Left untreated, they have the potential to damage vision. Dry eye can be diagnosed after a thorough examination of the eyes, and a Schirmer tear test to evaluate tear production.

Causes Of Dry Eye

People usually begin experiencing dry-eye symptoms as they age (they are more common in people older than 50), but they can also result from certain medications, medical conditions or injuries. Dry eye tends to affect women more than men because of the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and menopause. Oral contraceptives can also affect the consistency of tears. Other causes of dry eye include the following:

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Antihistamines, decongestants and blood-pressure medications


Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome and thyroid disease


Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind or excessive sun


Long-term contact lens use


Eye injury


Eye or eyelid surgery


Inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis or keratitis)

Symptoms Of Dry Eye

Stinging, burning or scratchiness

Difficulty wearing contact lenses

Eye fatigue

Excessive tearing

Sensitivity to light

Blurry vision

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Nonsurgical Treatments
Nonsurgical treatments, which include the following, are often effective:

Deliberately blinking
Increasing humidity levels at home or work
Using artificial tears or a lubricating ointment
Avoiding environmental irritants
Eliminating medications that may be responsible

Adding Omega-3 fatty acids to the diet or taking them as supplements
In many cases, simple lifestyle changes can alleviate dry-eye symptoms.

Surgical Treatments
If less invasive methods are unsuccessful, surgical treatments, which include the following, may be an option:

Insertion of punctal plugs to limit tear drainage
Punctal cautery to permanently close the drainage holes
Treatment of an underlying disease

If an eyelid condition is causing dry eye, eyelid surgery may be recommended.

If dry eye is left untreated, it can lead to complications that include pain, corneal ulcers/scars or vision loss.

Preventing Dry Eye
There are steps that can be taken to prevent dry-eye symptoms. Simple lifestyle modifications such as wearing protective glasses on windy days, and giving the eyes a break during reading or other tasks that require intense focus, can effectively reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

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