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DRY EYE SYNDROME

Tears are essential for healthy eyes and vision.

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What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry Eye Syndrome, or DES, is a condition caused by a lack of naturally producing tears. Tears are an essential aspect of eye health because they lubricate the surface of the eyes, keeping them moist and comfortable. When the body is unable to produce an adequate amount of tears, the eyes can begin to dry out, leading to itchy, red, and painful eyes.

At Switalski Eye Care, we are leaders in treatments for Dry Eye Syndrome patients in Plano, Texas. If you or a loved one suffers from DES, speak with Dr. Switalski and schedule a consultation to learn how we can help.

What Are Tears Made Of?

Tears are more than just fluid in the eye; they have a chemical makeup comprised of water, enzymes, proteins, metabolites, lipids, and mucins.

Tears are important because they keep your eyes well-lubricated and protect them from foreign bodies or dust particles, which can cause irritation. When an insufficient amount of tears is produced in the tear ducts, Dry Eye Syndrome occurs.

What are tear elements and why are they important?

Enzymes are proteins that cause a chemical reaction inside the body

Proteins are molecules containing amino acids that are found in tissues in the body

Metabolites are small molecules that are related to metabolism

Lipids are molecules with an oily substance which contain healthy fats

Mucins are glycoproteins that helps cells stick together

What Are Common Symptoms of Dry Eye?

The most frequent types of Dry Eye symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Burning sensation
  • Gritty feeling
  • Itchy eyes
  • Redness
  • Stinging
  • Soreness
  • Watery eyes

It may seem ironic, but one symptom of DES is watery eyes. This occurs when the body attempts to self-soothe the dryness by producing excessive tears, a condition known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS). The tears lack a sufficient amount of water, so although these tears may provide temporary relief, the excessiveness of the tear production isn’t healthy.

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Who Is at Risk for Developing Dry Eye Syndrome?

Like other diseases and eye conditions, there are some people who are more susceptible to developing DES. Age, gender, medical conditions, even the environment can contribute to sensitivity to dry eyes.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can make Dry Eye more prevalent. Patients with any of the following diseases may notice signs of DES symptoms:

  • Arthritis, an inflammation of the joints
  • Blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelid, usually caused by skin conditions such as dandruff or rosacea
  • Diabetes, a condition causing high blood glucose levels
  • Glaucoma, a disease of the optic nerve, which causes vision loss
  • Hypertension, high blood pressure in the arteries
  • Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes damage to healthy tissue
  • Thyroid Disorder, when the tissues that surround the eyes become swollen or inflamed
  • Vitamin A Deficiency, when there is an insufficient amount of Vitamin A, which normally helps protect the cornea

Environmental Factors

People who live in areas with heavy winds or with dusty or dry air may find that their eyes often feel dry. Being around smoke or hair dryers can cause the same reaction. Being in direct aim of a heater or air conditioning unit can also dry out the eyes.

Gender

 

Women are more prone to DES because of hormonal changes due to pregnancy, birth control, and menopause. Women over age 50 have a 50% greater risk of developing Dry Eye than men of the same age. Additionally, women tend to visit their doctor more often than men and at earlier stages of discomfort, so diagnosing the condition in women is more common.

Age

According to the National Eye Institute, the risk of experiencing DES goes up with age. That’s because the natural tears of the eye decrease over time, which is a natural part of aging. As the patient’s tear production diminishes, signs of Dry Eye increase.

Treatment for Dry Eye Syndrome

Dr. Switalski treats patients from all over Plano who have Dry Eye. Our staff has the experience and knowledge needed to help give you relief from DES symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Depending on your specific case, we may recommend artificial tears or lubricant eye drops to produce tears to moisten and make your eyes feel more comfortable. Prescription drops can help stimulate tear production and, in some cases, steroids can provide significant short-term relief.

For patients with more severe DES, the doctor may suggest the use of punctal plugs. These tiny devices are placed inside the tear duct to block tears from draining. As the natural moisture is prevented from leaking out, it remains in the eye and coats it properly, keeping it lubricated and comfortable.

Scleral lenses can provide effective relief, as well. These are custom-designed rigid contact lenses with a large diameter that cover the entire sclera (the white part of the eye) without touching the cornea. Scleral lenses contain a tiny pool of water, providing constant moisture to dry eyes.

Restasis

RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MultiDose® drops help increase your eyes’ natural ability to produce tears, which makes it a top treatment for dry eye.

Do not use RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MultiDose® Ophthalmic Emulsion if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. Be careful not to touch the container tip to your eye or other surfaces, to help avoid eye injury and contamination. RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MultiDose® should not be used while wearing contact lenses. If contact lenses are worn, they should be removed prior to use of RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MultiDose® and may be reinserted after 15 minutes.

The most common side effect is a temporary burning sensation. Other side effects include eye redness, discharge, watery eyes, eye pain, foreign body sensation, itching, stinging, and blurred vision.

Pros:

  • Continue to use artificial tears as needed, for temporary relief, leaving 15 minutes between products
  • Rely less on artificial tears over time as you make more of your own real tears. Individual results may vary
  • RESTASIS® offers the convenience to choose between a multidose bottle or single-use vials
Xiidra

Xiidra® (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) 5% is a prescription eye drop used to treat the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease. *Note: Do not use Xiidra if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Seek medical care immediately if you get any symptoms of an allergic reaction.

5 Facts About Xiidra

  • Use Xiidra twice per day: Use one drop of Xiidra in each eye, two times a day, about 12 hours apart.
  • Wear contact lenses?: Take ’em out before using Xiidra and wait at least 15 minutes before popping them back in.
  • Single-dose containers: Each Xiidra container has enough medicine to treat both of your eyes once. So you’ll be using two containers each day, about 12 hours apart.
  • Scrub those hands: To avoid contamination, wash your hands first & don’t let the tip of the container touch your eye or any surface.
  • Have bad aim?: It’s ok! Each container has some extra solution in case you miss. Throw it out when you’re done – don’t save it.
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Medications and Dry Eye

All medications include warnings of possible side effects which some patients may experience. There are certain categories of medications that are known to decrease natural tear production, such as:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Anxiety medications
  • Birth control pills
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Decongestants

If you are taking any of these medications and feeling any signs of Dry Eye, speak with Dr. Switalski about some alternative medications or treatments to alleviate your symptoms

Short-Term Effects of Dry Eye Syndrome

Many symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome last for the short term, meaning, they can fade with proper treatment or sometimes, on their own. Blurry vision, itchy or red eyes, and stinging can be treated effectively and perhaps eventually disappear.

 

Long-Term Effects of Dry Eye Syndrome

Some symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome have long-term effects, which means that they can last for months or even years. These may include:

  • Corneal abrasions or ulcers
  • Long-term inflammation
  • Vision impairment

Corneal abrasions can become serious if left untreated. They often heal on their own, but in more severe cases, prescription creams or bandage contact lenses may be needed for more efficient treatment. In cases of vision impairment from Dry Eye Syndrome, we can help.

These long-term effects of Dry Eye can negatively impact your life. Sensitivity to light and difficulty driving are 2 primary examples of everyday tasks that can become restricted with severe Dry Eye Syndrome. This leads to a lower quality of life.

If you suffer from Dry Eye and are ready for a solution to your painful symptoms, contact Dr. Switalski and the staff at Switalski Eye Care. We are here to help you experience better vision today.