Do your eyes feel dry after looking at a computer screen for several hours or when you’re sitting in an air-conditioned room? If you are experiencing a stinging or burning in your eyes, you may have dry eye. It’s a common condition and treatment is available to help you be more comfortable and prevent dry eyes from getting worse. Read on to learn more about dry eye disease and what you can do about it.
What is dry eye?
Dry eye disease occurs when the healthy tear film of your eyes is compromised. There are three layers in the tear film – an oily layer, watery layer and mucus layer. The film’s job is to keep the eyes lubricated, smooth and clear. If there are problems with any layer of the film, you may experience dry eye.
Inflamed eyelid glands, hormone changes, autoimmune disease can disrupt the tear film. Decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation leads to inadequate lubrication for your eyes. If you don’t produce enough tears or produce poor quality tears, this tear instability can lead to inflammation and damage the eye’s surface.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of dry eye usually affect both eyes. You may feel a burning, stinging or scratchy sensation in your eyes, watery eyes or blurred vision. A stringy mucus may be in or around the eyes. If you have redness, sensitivity to light or the sensation that there is something in your eyes, these are common signs of dry eye.
How is it diagnosed and treated?
A comprehensive eye exam, along with a number of tests can determine if you have dry eye disease and the underlying causes. For treatment, most people need over-the-counter eyedrops for mild symptoms. If you have persistent or more severe symptoms, prescription medications or procedures such as closing tear ducts or using light therapy may be indicated.
If you have dry eye, you may be able to manage this disease with frequent eyelid washing and over-the-counter eyedrops. Call (413) 782-0030 to schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor about the treatment that is right for you.