Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a disease which can cause a variety of symptoms affecting vision and/or the comfort of the eyes.
A normal healthy eye has a protective tear film made of three layers:
- The oily layer (outermost) is secreted by the meibomian glands; its main purpose is to reduce the evaporation of tears.
- The watery layer (middle) is produced by the lacrimal gland. This layer functions to wash away foreign particles.
- The mucous layer (innermost) is produced by conjunctiva! goblet cells; its purpose is to keep tears on the cornea.
DES occurs when there is a decrease in the quantity and/or quality of the tear film. This condition is associated with an increased tear film osmolarity, inducing inflammation.
- Dryness or grittiness
- Sensitivity to light
Risk Factors Include:
- Aging (40+)
- Eyelid problems
- Foreign body sensation
- Excessive tearing
- Recent eye surgery
- Autoimmune disease
- Burning or stinging
- Blurred vision and/or fluctuating vision
- Use of certain medications
- External factors (computer use, contact lenses)
Your eye doctor can diagnose DES during your eye examination. Common dry eye tests incorporate dye solutions that highlight dry spots and/or paper strips or threads placed on the eyelids to measure the rate of tear production.
Dry Eye Clinic:
Newsom Eye’s Dry Eye Clinic offers a variety of different treatments for DES. Several treatments are available because the severity of the disease varies. Mild DES may be properly managed with basic eyelid hygiene and use of over-the-counter (OTC) artificial tears. There are many OTC tears, both preserved and preservative-free, and of various consistencies. Moderate to Severe DES usually requires more attention. There are antibiotic and/or steroidal/non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications that may be prescribed. Restasis®is a prescription medication that is very successful in the management of DES. This medication not only lubricates the eye, but it induces the lacrimal gland to make more tears. Another successful approach to DES is conserving the body’s own tears through the use of punctal plugs (see figure below). Normally the tears drain out of the eye through a canalinto the nose. Your eye doctor can plug these holes with temporary or long-term plugsto keep the tears on the eye longer, thus keeping the eyes more moist. The procedure is non-invasive and can be done quickly and easily during the eye exam. Newsom Eye’s latest DES treatment, Autologous Serum Eye Drops, produces a tear substitute that is unique to the patient, and contains many important growth factors and nutrients normally found in healthy tears. Another alternative treatment is Prokera® Prokera® is a biologic corneal bandage that is similar to a large contact lens. When placed on the eye, it helps relieve DES and restore the cornea back to a healthy optimal state, as well as improve vision.
DES is a chronic disease with no cure at this time, but there are many ways to manage DES and decrease or eliminate the symptoms that can disrupt your vision and/or comfort. If you suspect you have DES, please ask to be evaluated by a doctor at Newsom Eye