Dry eye syndrome affects about 3 million Americans and the number continues to climb annually. Others suggest that the number is closer to 5 million while some suggest that at least 48 percent of Americans over the age of 50 suffer from this condition. If you are one of those people suffering from dry eyes, then you are probably already familiar with the burning itchy feeling of your eyes being continually dry. In severe cases, it can alter your eye’s function and stability.
Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome
There are many different causes of dry eyes. Some people have an underlying problem with their eyes causing their eyes to dry out as one of the symptoms. The most common cause is that a person’s tears are not properly forming and are not nourishing the eye. Other times, dry eyes are a result of another medical condition, like lupus, thyroid disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Still, others experience dry eyes because of hormonal changes in the body. Many common medications used to treat blood pressure, depression, congestion and even to not get pregnant can cause the eyes to dry out. Your climate and environmental factors, like smog and smoke, can cause dry eyes. Structural problems with the eyes not closing properly is another common cause seen by eye doctors.
Diagnosis of Dry Eyes
Dry eyes are often discovered during a routine eye exam. Therefore, it is important to keep the exam schedule recommended by your eye doctor. If your doctor thinks that dry eyes may be a problem, then he can perform a series of specialized tests. These include diagnostic staining of the tear film and cornea, measurement of the rate of tear production, measurement of the concentration of tears and measurement of tear film breakup time.
Treatment of Dry Eyes at Home
Your doctor will recommend specialized treatment after diagnosing dry eyes. It is vital that you follow the recommendations of your doctor regularly. Lubricating drops with higher viscosity are often the best long-term solution, but they will leave your vision blurry for several minutes after you use them. Your doctor may also recommend prescription eye drops to help your body increase the number and quality of tears that it produces. There are also new steroid eye drops that help reduce inflammation that are showing very promising results.
Treatment of Dry Eyes in Your Doctor’s Office
There are many treatments that your eye doctor can perform in his office to help stop dry eyes. Some of these treatments include punctal plugs, intense pulse light treatment, slow-release lubrication inserts, and Meibomian gland expression.
For Central Florida residents, the first step is to see an eye doctor in Orlando. If you do not have an eye doctor in Orlando, then Eyes of Winter Park would love to become your provider. Give them a call today to set up your appointment.