Dry Eyes: their causes, symptoms and treatment

Dry eyes are a relatively common, but chronic and progressive problem for many people. There can be several underlying causes for dry eye syndrome to occur, and when it does, the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable for the sufferer. Thankfully, there are a range of treatment options available that help patients manage their condition, reduce their symptoms and improve the functionality and comfort of their vision and life. Dr. Michael Ahdoot provides the highest quality care and treatment for patients suffering with dry eyes in Sunnyside, Queens and the surrounding metropolitan New York City region.

What are dry eyes?

Girl putting on Eye Drops
Our eyes need moisture to function properly. This comes in the form of a permanent thin film of tears produced by the lacrimal gland that acts as a natural lubricant. These tears also contain vital oils, proteins and antibodies that ensure the health, comfort and mobility of our eyes.

Age is a significant factor in the development of dry eyes. As we get older, the lacrimal glands begin to lose their ability to produce adequate amounts of tears. Certain medications, underlying ocular or medical conditions and environmental factors can also contribute to the development or worsening of dry eyes.

What are the symptoms of dry eyes?

It will probably come as no surprise that the most obvious symptom is a feeling that your eyes are dry, gritty or sandy. You may catch yourself blinking rapidly to try and ‘clear’ them. Other common symptoms include:
  • Grittiness
  • Stinging or burning
  • Blurred vision
  • Alternating between very watery or very dry eyes
  • Redness or swelling
  • Eye pain
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Heavy eyelids and/or increased fatigue
  • Inability to sustain visual attention on anything for too long
  • Difficulty performing routine daily tasks such as using your smart phone or computer, watching TV, driving or having a simple conversation with a friend
Contact lens users may find that dry eyes cause their contacts to become very uncomfortable and hard to put in and take out.

Occasionally, sufferers of dry eye report excessive tearing. This is due to a compensatory over-production of tears which is a sign that the body recognizes the lack of moisture in the eyes and is trying to rectify it. However, these tears are often lacking the nutrients needed to properly lubricate the eyes, and so provide only an extremely short-term solution.

What causes dry eyes? Why have I been affected?

As mentioned previously, dry eyes are a common, but unfortunate, side-effect of the aging process and many people over the age of 65 find they suffer from the condition. However, there are also a range of other causes. Some of these include:

Some medications. Certain drugs, such as birth control pills and antihistamines are well known for causing dry eyes and list the condition as a common side effect in those that take them.

Menopause. Estrogen is a hormone that has some responsibility for tear production. When a woman enters menopause, her estrogen levels drop which in turn can cause the lacrimal gland to begin working less effectively, creating the symptoms of dry eyes.

Damage or injury to the structure of the eyelid. Patients who have suffered damage to their eyelid, or recently had eyelid surgery, may find that an inability to close their eyelids properly can cause a temporary bout of dry eyes as a result of increased exposure to the air.

Rheumatoid arthritis. The inflammation seen in patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis can also affect their eyes.

Collagen vascular diseases. These are less common, but patients who are suffering from these diseases may find that they attack the healthy tissue of their eyes.

Sjögren’s Syndrome. This condition sees the body attack its own tear and saliva glands.

Why choose Dr. Michael Ahdoot for your dry eyes treatment?

No matter the cause of your dry eyes, Dr. Ahdoot is extensively experienced and educated in diagnosing and treating patients with dry eye disorders. At Progressive Ophthalmology, we will conduct a thorough consultation with you to find the cause of your dry eyes and determine what the best course of treatment is to relieve your symptoms. Some of the options that we may consider could include:

  • Eye drops. These are by far the most common and simplest treatment for dry eyes. They work by imitating the composition of natural tears, lubricating the eyes and removing any discomfort that you may feel. The type and dosage that is suitable for your needs will be recommended to you, and may be adjusted over time to help give you the optimal result.
  • Prescription eye drops. These work by enabling your body to produce more of its own natural tears in addition to blocking many of the inflammatory mediators that are responsible for the perpetuation of dry eyes and damage to the ocular surface. These medications can only be prescribed by an experienced ophthalmologist such as Dr. Ahdoot.
  • Topical treatments. These creams and gels are applied directly to the eye and stimulate the production of tears.
  • Oral medications. These medications will be absorbed into your body to stimulate your lacrimal glands to produce tears.
  • The Lipiflow System. Lipiflow is an electronic device that uses heat and gentle massage to remove blockages in the gland and restore the natural flow of tears, recreating the tear film that covers the surface of the eye.
  • Punctual plugs. This treatment involves the placement of temporary plugs that block the ducts which drain tears from the eye. The plugs dissolve naturally over time, but while they are in place, they help to retain moisture on the surface of the eye.
Are dry eyes getting in the way of your life? Progressive Ophthalmology offers premier care and treatment to patients in the Sunnyside, Queens and surrounding metropolitan New York City areas. Don’t suffer with the symptoms of dry eyes, make an appointment with Dr. Michael Ahdoot, and let us get your ocular health back on track.