Dry Eye Syndrome causes a decrease in the amount of tears that are naturally produced by your eyes. There is often inflammation of the glands that produce tears. The front surface of your eye is normally kept moist by a thin layer of tears, so when too small amount is produced, it will result in dry areas on the corneal surface.
If symptoms persist and aren’t treated, it can cause discomfort and a gradual, mild loss of vision. As we get older, the body naturally produces fewer tears. Dry Eye Syndrome can also be caused by hormonal changes, particularly in women, as well as thyroid disorders and rheumatoid arthritis. Certain medications including Visine (“get-the-red-out”) drops, anti-depressants, antihistamines, and birth control pills and can also play a role in the development of this condition.
The first way to treat dry eyes is through moisturizing eye drops (ex. Refresh, Systane, Optive, or Blink drops) used two to four times a day. A nighttime ophthalmic ointment may then be added and can be prescribed based on your individual needs. Tiny plugs can be inserted to close the tear ducts if the above strategies prove ineffective. This is an easy in-office procedure that can be done within a few minutes. In addition, prescription eye drops (ex. Restasis) may be used to alleviate the inflammation of the tear-producing glands in the eye. Nutritional supplements (ex. flax seed oil) may also be of benefit.