Dry Eye occurs when the eye does not produce enough tears, or when the tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly. Tears are normally produced at a steady rate, and the eye stays moist and comfortable. In addition, inflammation of the surface of the eye may occur along with dry eye, creating irritation and discomfort.
About 10 million Americans suffer from dry eye syndrome. Most of these cases result from normal aging of the glands in the eye, but dry eye can occur at any age. People suffering from allergies and those wearing contact lenses have greater risk of developing dry eye.
Dry eye cannot be cured, but eye sensitivity can be lessened and measures taken so your eyes remain healthy. The most frequent method of treatment is the use of artificial tears or tear substitutes. For more severe dry eye, ointment can be used, typically at bedtime. In some cases, small plugs may be inserted in the corner of the eyelids to slow drainage and loss of tears.
To keep dry eye symptoms in check, you and your doctor need to work together. Follow instructions carefully. If you have increased dryness or redness that is not relieved by the prescribed treatment, let your doctor know as soon as possible.