Griffiths, M.D., P.C.
12110 Sunset Hills Road Suite 50 LL
Reston, Virginia 20190
703-834-9777 Fax 703-834-8187 Toll Free 800-294-1001
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye is a condition that affects millions of people every day. It is often a normal part of the aging process. Other causes include exposure to environmental conditions, injuries to the eye, or general health problems. For example, people with arthritis and diabetes are more prone to dry eye. Some other specific causes of dry eye include:
Indoor heating and air conditioning
Dry eye syndrome is literally the eye's inability to lubricate and tear correctly. Oddly enough, some people who have dry eye syndrome actually tear excessively. Unfortunately, the pH or acidity of their tears is altered so that the eyes still feel dry and itchy, causing them to tear continuously.
It is very common, especially in the older population, particularly in older women. Women often experience dry eye syndrome during and after menopause, due to a decrease in female hormone levels. Other hormone-altering events such as pregnancy, menstruation and the use of birth control can contribute to dry eye syndrome.
The use of certain medications can also alter the eye's ability to lubricate. Some of the most common medications are:
blood pressure medication
Certain types of diseases can also alter the eyes. These include:
autoimmune disorders (i.e. lupus, HIV)
The severity and symptoms of dry eye vary from person to person, although there are three distinct degrees of dryness: mild, moderate, and severe. Symptoms of dry eye include:
Sensitivity to light
It is important to note some people suffer from all symptoms, while others may experience only a few. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, be sure to ask your eye doctor about dry eye. If you have dry eye, your doctor can help you choose an eye lubricant that's right for you.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following treatments:
artificial teardrops (saline-type solutions)
ointments placed in the eyes to lubricate
temporarily or permanently plugging the tear ducts while manually replacing the tears with drops or ointments
hormone replacement, if due to menopause
change in birth control prescription, if applicable
No cure currently exists for dry eye syndrome. Your doctor can help you address the symptoms.