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Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome (DES or dry eye) is a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. Its consequences range from minor irritation to the inability to wear contact lenses and an increased risk of corneal inflammation and eye infections.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye

Persistent dryness, scratchiness and a burning sensation on your eyes are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. These symptoms alone may be enough for your eye doctor to diagnose dry eye syndrome. Sometimes, he or she may want to measure the amount of tears in your eyes. A thin strip of filter paper placed at the edge of the eye, called a Schirmer test, is one way of measuring this.

Some people with dry eyes also experience a “foreign body sensation” – the feeling that something is in the eye. And it may seem odd, but sometimes dry eye syndrome can cause watery eyes, because the excessive dryness works to overstimulate production of the watery component of your eye’s tears.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

In dry eye syndrome, the tear glands that moisturize the eye don’t produce enough tears, or the tears have a chemical composition that causes them to evaporate too quickly.

Dry eye syndrome has several causes. It occurs:

  • As a part of the natural aging process, especially among women over age 40.
  • As a side effect of many medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medicines, Parkinson’s medications and birth control pills.
  • Because you live in a dry, dusty or windy climate with low humidity.

If your home or office has air conditioning or a dry heating system, that too can dry out your eyes. Another cause is insufficient blinking, such as when you’re staring at a computer screen all day.

Dry eyes are also associated with certain systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea or Sjogren’s Syndrome (a triad of dry eyes, dry mouth, and rheumatoid arthritis or lupus).

Long-term contact lens wear, incomplete closure of the eyelids, eyelid disease and a deficiency of the tear-producing glands are other causes.

Dry eye syndrome is more common in women, possibly due to hormone fluctuations. Recent research suggests that smoking, too, can increase your risk of dry eye syndrome. Dry eye has also been associated with incomplete lid closure following blepharoplasty – a popular cosmetic surgery to eliminate droopy eyelids.

Treatment for Dry Eye

Dry eye syndrome is an ongoing condition that treatments may be unable to cure. But the symptoms of dry eye – including dryness, scratchiness and burning – can usually be successfully managed.

Your eyecare practitioner may recommend artificial tears, which are lubricating eye drops that may alleviate the dry, scratchy feeling and foreign body sensation of dry eye. Prescription eye drops for dry eye go one step further: they help increase your tear production. In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe a steroid for more immediate short-term relief.

Another option for dry eye treatment involves a tiny insert filled with a lubricating ingredient. The insert is placed just inside the lower eyelid, where it continuously releases lubrication throughout the day.

If you wear contact lenses, be aware that many artificial tears cannot be used during contact lens wear. You may need to remove your lenses before using the drops. Wait 15 minutes or longer (check the label) before reinserting them. For mild dry eye, contact lens rewetting drops may be sufficient to make your eyes feel better, but the effect is usually only temporary. Switching to another lens brand could also help.

Check the label, but better yet, check with your doctor before buying any over-the-counter eye drops. Your eye doctor will know which formulas are effective and long-lasting and which are not, as well as which eye drops will work with your contact lenses.

To reduce the effects of sun, wind and dust on dry eyes, wear sunglasses when outdoors. Wraparound styles offer the best protection.

Indoors, an air cleaner can filter out dust and other particles from the air, while a humidifier adds moisture to air that’s too dry because of air conditioning or heating.

For more significant cases of dry eye, your eye doctor may recommend punctal plugs. These tiny devices are inserted in ducts in your lids to slow the drainage of tears away from your eyes, thereby keeping your eyes more moist.

If your dry eye is caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), your doctor may recommend warm compresses and suggest an in-office procedure to clear the blocked glands and restore normal function.

Doctors sometimes also recommend special nutritional supplements containing certain essential fatty acids to decrease dry eye symptoms. Drinking more water may also offer some relief.

If medications are the cause of dry eyes, discontinuing the drug generally resolves the problem. But in this case, the benefits of the drug must be weighed against the side effect of dry eyes. Sometimes switching to a different type of medication alleviates the dry eye symptoms while keeping the needed treatment. In any case, never switch or discontinue your medications without consulting with your doctor first.

Treating any underlying eyelid disease, such as blepharitis, helps as well. This may call for antibiotic or steroid drops, plus frequent eyelid scrubs with an antibacterial shampoo.

If you are considering LASIK, be aware that dry eyes may disqualify you for the surgery, at least until your dry eye condition is successfully treated. Dry eyes increase your risk for poor healing after LASIK, so most surgeons will want to treat the dry eyes first, to ensure a good LASIK outcome. This goes for other types of vision correction surgery, as well.

Dear valued patient,

We take our commitment to keeping our patients and team safe and healthy inthe midst of this COVID-19 pandemic very seriously. We want to share our plan to comply with social distancing guidelines for your upcoming appointment. Please carefully read the steps below and follow our direction when you arrive. Our team will all be wearing masks and we ask that you bring one with you to wear during your visit (for everyone’s safety, we are requiring staff and patients to wear masks).

We ask patients to complete necessary paperwork online if possible. Click here to access the forms. You may also choose to text a photo of your insurance card and photo ID to the clinic at 763-537-3213.

When you arrive for your appointment, enter the main doors and wait in the front alcove until a staff member greets you. Our front desk team will ask you general health questions to rule out the presence of COVID-19 symptoms.

We are asking that only the patient enter the building for the exam. (Exceptions: Children under 18 may be accompanied by one guardian, and adults with special needs may be accompanied by one caretaker.)

When you enter the building:

Staff will ask you to use hand sanitizer and then you will complete any necessary paperwork that you were not able to complete online, and we will make copies of your insurance card and photo ID if you did not text a picture of them to us.

Prior to seeing your doctor, a technician will escort you to a pre-testing room where you will be asked to wash your hands. We ask that you follow the CDC’s recommendation of washing your hands thoroughly, for a full 20seconds, with soap and water.

Rest assured that every surface and every piece of equipment you come into contact with has been sanitized prior to the arrival of each and every patient entering our practice, and it will be cleaned again as you exit each area.

The team will be frequently washing their hands between interactions as per our usual protocol, and you’ll also see hand sanitizer throughout the practice for your use, as well.

Optical – Shopping for Glasses, Adjustments and Repairs, and Glasses Pick-up

We are scheduling appointments for all optical needs. Please call the clinic at 763-537-3213 to schedule your appointment.

When you are shopping for glasses, one of our ABO certified opticians will ask you to be seated at a station where you will discuss your needs, likes and dislikes. To ensure social distancing, the optician will bring frames to you so you can try them on at the station. The optician will continue to bring frames to you until you find the perfect pair!

We sterilize every frame a patient touches in a UV Cleaning Unit after a shopping appointment so you can be assured any frame you try on has been sanitized prior to your visit.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us. We look forward to seeing you!

Thank you for your patience and cooperation,

Your Crystal Vision Clinic Eye Care Team

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We sterilize every frame a patient touches in a UV Cleaning Unit after each shopping appointment so you can be assured any frame you try on has been sanitized prior to your visit.