Dry eye occurs when your eye does not properly produce tears. The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that 3.2 million women over 50 and 1.68 million men in America suffer from dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye disease can be caused by chronic ocular inflammation, allergies, autoimmune disease, rosacea, poor diet, dehydration, environment, chronic exposure to chemical vapors and dust, and anatomical changes that to the ocular surface and eyelids.
Patients with undiagnosed dry eye disease often complain of grittiness and/or a burning sensation on the ocular surface. These individuals may also complain of tears overflowing onto the cheek on a regular basis. Decreased visual acuity may also occur in patients with severe dry eye due to desiccation of the corneal surface cells.
Dry eye can be treated, giving patients the relief they need.
Patients with autoimmune disease or chronic ocular inflammation are more likely to have chronic dry eye syndrome. In contrast, patients with dry eye caused by inspissated tear glands may only need a month or two of warm compresses and artificial tears to combat the disease. If you have symptoms of dry eye disease, see an ophthalmologist or an optometrist to determine the underlying cause of the disease and appropriate treatment.
Treatment of dry eye disease depends on the underlying cause of the disease. For some patients warm compresses and artificial tears is enough to keep the disease at bay. However, artificial tears can be very expensive, especially if the patient has chronic dry eye, and may need to be administered multiple times per day. That said, patients who would prefer to forgo chronic use of artificial tears should consider a scleral contact lens to treat their dry eye disease.
That’s right, you can have dry eye and contacts. Many people aren’t aware that you don’t have to be restricted to glasses if you have dry eye and some vision loss.
Patients with dry eye disease may experience a decrease in visual acuity because the cornea, which is normally when a transparent structure becomes inflamed and develops tiny opacities that scatter light. We use scleral contact lenses to treat dry eye syndrome because they provide a tear film bandage that keeps the cornea lubricated when the lens is worn. Scleral contact lenses provide the patient with superior optics and comfort.
To learn more about scleral contact lenses, visit the UofL Physicians – Eye Specialists Contact Lens Center.