Dry eye disease, or DED for short, is quite a prevalent condition in the United States. In fact, based on the National Health and Wellness Survey, DED affects approximately 16.4 million American adults. Therefore, it’s quite probable that you know what dry disease is and the discomfort it can cause. But what exactly causes this condition, and who’s most at risk? Read on to find out.
The tear film in your eyes is essential for the nourishment and lubrication of the cornea, which is the front surface of your eyes. In addition to lubrication, tears also wash away dirt and debris particles that get into the eye and reducing the risk of eye infections.
Your tears, therefore, play a vital role in maintaining good eye health. Dry eye disease occurs when you don’t produce the right amount or quality of tears.
What Are the Symptoms of DED?
It’s likely that you’ve experienced itchy, burning or irritated eyes at some point in your life. It could be because a foreign matter got into your eye or due to an allergy. Whatever the cause, it can be extremely uncomfortable, right?
People who suffer from DED experience the same symptoms, but no amount of allergy medication or washing the eyes solves the problem. This happens because the tissues of the eyes dry out. This not only causes extreme discomfort, but can also affect visual acuity. Many people who suffer from DED report blurred vision. This is quite understandable. When the tear film in your eyes has broken down, your ability to get rid of the dirt and debris is affected. It’s like trying to look through a dirty windshield.
The Causes of DED
A myriad of factors need to work in tandem to create a healthy and stable tear film that can provide adequate protection to the eyes. Here are some common causes of DED:
· Age: Because the amount of tears produced naturally reduces as we age, most people over the age of sixty are likely to experience some degree of DED symptoms.
· Gender: Women are more likely to experience dry eye symptoms than men. This is probably due to hormonal fluctuations caused by pregnancy, menopause or the use of oral contraceptives.
· Malfunctioning Meibomian Gland: Situated in both lower and upper eyelids, the Meibomian glands release oils that prevent tears from evaporating too quickly. DED symptoms can appear if these glands are blocked or aren’t functioning correctly.
· Medical Conditions: Individuals who have a chronic illness such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes are more likely experience DED symptoms. The same goes for people who’ve had eye surgeries, including cataracts or LASIK surgery.
· Environmental Factors: Tear films in eyes can also be impacted by dry, windy climates, overuse of computers and phones and exposure to smoke.
There are a variety of treatment available to treat dry eye disease, ranging from artificial tears to immuno-modulatory. Anti-inflammatory eye drops, or sometimes oral medications. The goal is to treat the root cause of the problem when possible. A fairly easy and efficient treatment are punctal plugs: they are small devices used to block the natural canal that drains the tears to the nose. Once the canal is blocked, your own tears can stay on your eyes limit or eliminate dry eye disease symptoms.
Providing optometry services to all in North Miami, Dr. Gilberg & Associates can help you with whatever vision problem you may have. We also provide care for eye diseases and are connected with some of the best eye doctors in the state in case you require surgery. Book an appointment online for an eye exam in north miami for glasses or call 786-500-2020 to talk to a representative.