Dry Eye

Dry, red and irritated eyeDry Eye is a common condition in which there are insufficient tears on the eye’s surface to lubricate and nourish it.

It can be caused by several things, including contact lens wear, certain medications, advanced age, eye diseases and the environment.

Extended periods of reading, watching TV or working at a computer – when a decrease in blinking allows excessive evaporation of the tears – may also cause Dry Eye.

Some of the symptoms of Dry Eye may include

•    Eye stinging or burning
•    Redness in the eyes
•    Watery eyes
•    Eye irritation or scratchiness
•    Difficulty wearing contact lenses
•    Tired eyes

“There are many different substances and structures in the eye and the eyelid that go together to produce your tear layer,” explains Dr. Larry Malashock, one of six optometrists at Malbar Vision. “When you consider the mechanics of how your eyelid secretes fluids and the eye itself, the cornea, the fluids that mix together to keep your cornea lubricated, it’s kind of amazing.”

Some of the common ways to treat or prevent Dry Eye include

•    Artificial tears: These comfort the eyes by supplementing natural tears and are commonly used for mild cases of Dry Eye.
•    Prescription eye drops: These may increase the production of natural tears.
•    Minimize drying: Avoiding “dry” situations, such as windy or smoky conditions. When outdoors, wear wraparound glasses to reduce drying effect of the wind.
•    Surgery: Plugs may be inserted to block the drainage path of tears, or the tear ducts may be sealed surgically.

Dr. Malashock suggests being proactive to Dry Eye. If you know you are going to be reading or focused on a computer screen for an extended period of time, lubricate your eyes with artificial eye drops when you begin, he says, rather than being reactive and using the drops after your eyes already burn or itch.