Dry Eye is a significant eye problem that affects millions of Americans. In today’s world, there are many things that cause dry eye along with the common causes that have always been there. Due to hormone change, post menopausal women routinely suffer from dry eye. Aging, smoking and certain medications like blood pressure medication and antidepressants cause dry eye. Also, low humidity conditions and a lack of hydration can cause dry eye. Surgery of the eye like cataract surgery and LASIK can also cause a certain degree of dry eye, usually temporary. The symptoms of dry eye are a gritty irritated eye. Itching is more typical of allergy, but can also be a part of dry eye. Often, tearing a sign of dry eye. This does not make sense at first, but the brain has the power through nerve innervation to tell the lacrimal gland to create tears. This may happen to a large degree with a significant dry eye. This causes over tearing that is from dry eye. There can also be fluctuation in vision when reading a book or using a computer. This is because when we read, we blink less and the ocular surface dries out.
Detecting dry eye is multifaceted, but at North Shore Eye Care/SightMD in Long Island New York, we have a computerized Tear Lab that measures the concentration of our tears. As the concentration of tears increases, the eye is drier. This is because a dry tear has a higher salt concentration due to less fluid in the tear. There are also clinical findings of dry eye including corneal staining, decreased tear break up time and decreased wetting in a Schirmer test. Once we establish dry eye, treatment is initiated. Treatment of dry eye is multifactorial including environmental changes like using hypoallergenic products and trying to avoid dry settings such as winter weather. We also use artificial tears and Restasis, a prescription medication that improves dry eye in many cases. We also use steroids at times and suggest nutritional supplements when appropriate.