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What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye can take many forms and present via a variety of symptoms. In addition to the classic dry, itchy, uncomfortable eyes, it is possible that dry eye can also cause watering, foreign body sensation, and blurred vision.
There are two primary reasons underlying dry eye syndromes:
- Decreased tear production
- Increased tear evaporation
Many underlying health conditions can cause a reduction in tear production. These include collagen vascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome. Low tear production can cause symptoms from inadequate coverage of the ocular surface tissues.
A healthy tear film is made up of three primary components, the mucin, aqueous, and lipid layers. When functioning properly, the lipid layer is supplied by the meibomian glands along the lid margins upon each blink. Commonly, this layer is deficient from malfunction, damage, or atrophy of the meibomian glands or a change in composition of the oils that reside in those glands. If the lipid layer is deficient, the tear film evaporates more quickly than normal, which can lead to exposure of the sensitive nerves of the cornea resulting in symptoms.
Diagnostic testing can help determine what type of dry eye is causing symptoms. The Oculus Keratograph 5M is an instrument that allows for non-invasive testing to evaluate the tear film and meibomian glands to aid in navigation of the array of treatment modalities for dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition requiring ongoing treatment to improve and maintain the health of the tear film and reduce symptoms. Treatment can range from using artificial tears to prescription anti-inflammatory medications to manipulation and treatment of the eyelids and glands, among other options.
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