As we age, our eyes produce fewer tears. Dry eye is a very common (and ongoing) condition; the eyes may not produce enough tears or the tear ducts may not function properly. Those who wear contact lens, smoke or have undergone eye surgery such as LASIK are usually at higher risk for severe dry eye syndrome.
Other names for severe dry eye include dry eye syndrome (DES), keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), dysfunctional tear syndrome, lacrimal keratoconjunctivitis, evaporative tear deficiency, aqueous tear deficiency, and LASIK-induced neurotrophic epitheliopathy (LNE).
Dry eye syndrome may include dryness, scratchiness and burning but can usually be successfully managed.
Severe Dry Eye Symptoms
Early symptoms may include eye fatigue, eye pain, stinging, episodes of excess tears followed by dry eye periods, heavy eyelids, blurry vision and redness. Left untreated, dry eye can cause pain, inflammation, ulcers, permanent scars on the cornea and result in a decrease of vision. It can make it more difficult to perform some daily activities such as working at the computer, reading and watching TV.
Dry eye can be a temporary or chronic condition and can be due to an underlying medical condition like Sjogren’s syndrome or lacrimal and meibomian gland dysfunction, or medications like antihistamines, nasal decongestants, or contact lens use. Even though the FDA has approved it, it’s important not to sleep in your contacts to prevent severe dry eyes.
Dry eye can also occur in women who are pregnant, on hormone replacement therapy or those suffering from allergies. To reduce the effects of sun, wind and dust irritation on dry eyes, wear sunglasses when outdoors. Wraparound styles offer the best protection.
Indoors, consider using an air conditioner to filter out dust and other particles from the air, and a humidifier to add moisture to air that’s too dry because of air conditioning or heating usage. Drinking more water may also help to relieve symptoms.
Treatment to relieve the symptoms depends on the cause of dry eye (which is why medical treatment is so important) and may include artificial tears, supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, prescription ointment, serum drops or pain medication. If dry eye results from taking a medication, your doctor may recommend switching to a medication that does not cause the dry eye side effect.
Urgent Eye Care
At eMedical Urgent Care, we are here to help, should you ever need urgent eye care. Our offices provide walk-in eye care services for severe dry eye syndrome, eye infections, eye injuries, and other eye urgencies. We are dedicated to providing you and your loved ones with affordable, quality medical care without waiting for appointments in two locations: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and Middletown, New Jersey. Visit your nearest eMedical Urgent Care location today to stay healthy, happy and on your way!