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Treatment For Dry Eyes

Sometimes people use the eye drops that "get the red out" to treat their dry eyes. This
won't work unless the eye drops also contain artificial tears, and the original "get-the-red-
out" formulation doesn't. These drops can reduce or eliminate the redness temporarily, but
they don't treat the cause of the redness, whether it's dryness, environmental irritation or
some other problem.

Not only that, but the vasoconstrictors in those formulas that reduce redness by contracting
the eye's blood vessels are addictive, in the sense that, over time, more and more is
needed to achieve the same effect. And with frequent use, the effect diminishes after a
while, anyway — the blood vessels simply won't constrict as much as they did when you
first used the drops.

If you wear contact lenses, be aware that many eye drops, especially artificial tears, cannot
be used while your contacts are in your eyes. You'll need to remove them before using
drops and wait 15 minutes or even longer (check the label) before reinserting the lenses. If
your eye dryness is mild, then contact lens re-wetting drops may be sufficient to make your
eyes feel better, but the effect is usually only temporary.

If the problem is environmental, you should always wear sunglasses when outdoors, to
reduce exposure to sun, wind and dust. You may want to try the kind that has a foam or
other seal at the sides, to keep wind and dust from getting to your eyes at the top, bottom
and sides (see photo on this page). 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.

The use of punctal plugs can bean effective step in treating moderate to severe dry eye that is unresponsive to artificial teardrops and ointments. The tears drain into the nose via the tear ducts and blocking this outflow is a reasonable strategy to keep the tears in the eye for a longer period of time. This is a preferred method of treatment because it helps to reduce or eliminate the reliance on artificial tears, and it uses the method of allowing the accumulation of your own natural tears for the purpose of lubricating your eyes

How Tear Flow Works

The following terms are important in understanding how tear flow works.

A. The Lacrimal Gland, situated above the outer rim of the eye, produces "reflex
tears", which represent the eye's response to emotion, injury, or irritation.

B. The Meibomian Gland, are the little glands in the eyelids that make a lubricant
called sebum which is discharged through tiny openings in the edges of the eyelids.

C. The Punctum is a small external orifice in the corner of the eye that serves as a
"drain" for tears. While there are puncta on both the upper and lower eyelids, the
majority of tears flow through the lower punctum.

D. The Lacrimal Sac is an enlarged area within the "drainage system" through
which tears flow from the eye into the nose. Tears flowing into the punctum are
processed in the lacrimal sac before passing into the nasolacrimal duct.

E. The Nasolacrimal Duct is the downward continuation of the Lacrimal Sac into the nose.

What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

The most common causes of dry eye are age, medications, hormonal factors, and inflammation.

Age Symptoms of dry eye usually first appear in adults over 40 years of age, though they can appear earlier in women (between 20 and 30 years of age). Dry eye might be caused by age-related impairments to the lacrimal gland.

Medications Medications might be responsible for more than half of all cases of dry eye.Patients taking medication tend to have more severe dry eye symptoms than those not taking medication. Elderly people are more likely to have dry eyesyndrome related to drug therapy.

Medications that might cause dry eye include those for:

  • Eye problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Allergies
  • Birth control
  • Menopause
  • Stomach / Intestinal problems
  • Thyroid problems
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Hormonal Factors Dry eye is most common in post-menopausal women.

Other Environmental factors such as smog, dust and smoke can alter the pH of the tearfilm. Working on the computer can also cause dry eye, because you tend to blinkless.

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