“Dry Eye” refers to a group of problems in which the individual does not produce the appropriate quantity or quality of tears. The tear film is made of three layers: a mucus layer, a water layer, and an oil layer. If these three layers are not working correctly, the patient may have “ocular surface disease”.
The incidence of dry eye increases as we age and our bodies change. Dry eye fluctuates with changing hormones. In fact, the majority of all peri-menopausal and menopausal women will have some symptoms of dry eye. Dry eye can also result from eyelid or blinking problems, certain medications (antihistamines, oral contraceptives, antidepressants), environment (low humidity, dust, wind), injury, and various health problems (arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome). Also, activities causing prolonged staring such as reading, watching TV, and computer work can lead to tear film evaporation and dry eye.
Dry eye is a chronic disease with intermittent exacerbations. There is no cure, only control of the symptoms with a variety of techniques. Artificial tears of varying thicknesses may be used on a routine basis to help control symptoms. Restasis, a prescription medication, can be used to increase tear production when used regularly over time. Proper eyelid hygiene including warm compresses or lid treatments may help in certain individuals. Changing the environment at work or home by increasing the humidity may help. If these methods are insufficient, placing small plugs in or permanently closing the tear drainage holes can help retain the tears that are placed artificially and made naturally on the ocular surface.
Recently, it has been discovered that there is an inflammatory component to the condition of dry eye. Omega -3 fish oils have been shown to reduce symptoms and signs of the disease. Omega 3 oil is found in cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, haddock, cod, and sardines. Supplements can also be found at your health food store.