Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Eye Syndrome, also referred to as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is an eye disease caused by eye dryness, which, in turn, is caused by either decreased tear production or increased tear film evaporation. Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include stinging or burning eyes, scratchiness, stringy mucus around the eyes, irritation from smoke and/or wind, excess tearing and difficulty wearing contact lenses.
Tear production typically decreases with age. Although dry eye can occur in men and women, it is more prevalent in post-menopausal women. Dry eye syndrome is also common in individuals suffering from arthritis. It can also be caused by a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications. Consequently, it is important for patients to tell their optometrist the names of all the medications they are taking, so correct course of action is taken.. Sharing this information is essential for individuals taking diuretics, betablockers, antihistamines, sleeping pills, and pain relievers.
A simple eye examination by an optometrist can detect dry eye syndrome. In some cases, tests are performed where filter-paper strips are placed under the lower lids to measure tear production under various conditions.
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic and typically progressive condition. Depending the cause and severity of the condition, it may not be completely curable. However, in most cases, dry eyes can be managed successfully using one or more treatments. These treatments include using artificial tears, surgery and alter environmental conditions.
Over-the-counter eye drops, called artificial tears, are sometimes recommended to moisten the eyes. Individuals can use artificial tears as often as necessary, from once or twice a day to several times an hour. A second treatment option is to conserve the natural tears produced. Tears drain out of the eye through a small canal in the nose. Closing these canals either temporarily or permanently may be an option recommended, depending the cause and severity of the condition. A third treatment option is to mitigate or slow tear evaporation. Use of a humidifier, to ensure there is adequate humidity in the air is commonly recommended. Avoiding irritants, such overly warm rooms, hair dryers, wind and smoke is also highly recommended.