A very common eye irritation characterized by itching, burning, redness, and excessive tearing; dry eyes are caused by a chronic change in tear quantity and quality.
Tear production naturally decreases as we age, but there are several factors that can dry the eye:
- Contact lens wear
- Side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Living in a dry, dusty or windy climate
- Systemic diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- Incomplete closure of the eyelids
- Eyelid disease
- Deficient tear glands
Dry eye is a more common condition in women. An exam by Drs. Fagadau, Hawk and Swanson is the best way to diagnose dry eye syndrome.
The dryness, itching and burning associated with dry eye syndrome can be managed with artificial tears. If too much moisture drains out of the eye through the tear ducts, temporary or permanent plugs in the ducts may be inserted.
If a medication is causing the dry eye reaction, switching medications or discontinuing the drug usually resolves the problem.
Photo courtesy of American Academy of Ophthalmology.