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What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition. In some instances, it is characterized by dry, irritated eyes due to a lack of lubricating tears. Surprisingly, it can also be a result of excessively watery eyes due to tears lacking the proper balance of mucous, water and oil to coat the eyes properly.

There are two types of tears: lubricating and reflex. Lubricating tears protect the eyes against the elements. They are produced in a steady flow through out the day and spread across the eye by the blink reflex.

Reflex tears flood the eye suddenly whenever the eye is irritated. They can flow to such a degree that tears roll down the cheek. This excessive watering may occur when the eyes are irritated due to smoke, smog, irritants like onions, or when the eyes lack proper protection from lubricating tears.

Symptoms of dry eyes may include burning and stinging. A foreign body sensation, like sand being in the eye, is often encountered. Vision can be blurred. Reflex tearing may be triggered causing excessively watery eyes.

Dry eye syndrome often is a side effect of certain medications. It can also be a complication of some forms of arthritis.

How is Dry Eye Syndrome Treated?

Common treatment for dry eyes syndrome includes the frequent use of artificial tears. Artificial tear ointments may also be used. Although these products can be obtained without prescription, it is highly advisable to consult with your eye doctor. Excessive or prolonged use of artificial tears can disrupt the eyes natural production of tears, leading to further aggravation of the condition instead of providing desired relief.

Other treatments available for dry eye syndrome include the following:

  • Artificial tear inserts that dissolve slowly when placed under the eyelid
  • Temporary plugs in the tear drain (punctum) to allow the eyes time to gain full use of the lubricating tears before they are drained away from the eye
  • Laser treatment or minor surgery to close the punctum peranently
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