What is Dry Eye?
Tears hydrate, protect, and prevent infection of the eye. The human eye is lubricated by tears which are a combination of water, oil, and mucous produced by glands in the upper and lower eyelids. A lack of any of these components results in a condition known as Dry Eye Disease (DED).
2 Common Types of Dry Eye
- Evaporative – Lack of lipids in tears and tear film
- Aqueous – Lack of water in tears and tear film
Cause of Dry Eyes
- General aging
- Computer Vision Syndrome
Heavy daily computer use
- Eye surgery
Dry eye may result post surgically. e.g. lasik, cataract surgery.
Antihistamine, decongestants, pain relievers, anti depressants, diuretics, and alcohol
- Auto-immune diseases
Such as: Sjogren’s Syndrome, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s disease
Smoke, dry weather, windy, heating, fans, dehumidifiers, and work conditions
- Contact lenses
Dry eye is the leading cause of contact lens discomfort
Natural hormone shifts
- Eyelids stuck together upon awakening
- Contact lens discomfort
- Contact lens solution sensitivity
- Excess tearing (watery eyes)
- Irritation from wind or smoke
- Scratchy, gritty feeling
- Dry sensation
- Light sensitivity
- Sticky lid sensation
- Lid infections/sties
- Tired eyes
- Mucous discharge
Dry eye patients are unique in that their individual case could be related to any combination and number of direct and underlying causes. Helping your eye doctor to narrow down if your dry eye is evaporative or aqueous would be the first step.
If your eye doctor offers a dry eye survey, complete it. Your answers are 50% of the work to determine your diagnosis. Your eye doctor can then determine the tests they may want to run. Here are a few types:
- Staining tests – lissamine green, rose bengal and fluorescein staining show where the mucin is no longer protecting the surface of your eye.
- TBUT (Tear Break Up Time) know your TBUT – This is the time between your last blink and the first spot on your eye to dry under what is called a slit lamp. This is usually performed with a drop of fluorescein dye to clearly identify the dry spot.
- Paper strip and thread tests – measure your tear wetting & tear volume.
- Other testing – hand-held tear readers.