Dry eye, which affects approximately 20% of people, is a condition where your eye is not producing enough tears to adequately wet the front of the eye. This can be quite confusing, since one of the common symptoms of dry eye syndrome is excessive watering of the eyes. This is possible because the eye makes two different types of tears, lubricating and reflex.
Lubricating tears contain a specific balance of water, mucus, oil, proteins, and antibodies to protect the front surface of the eye. These tears are produced steadily throughout the day.
Reflex tears do not actually have much lubricating value. They are produced as an automatic reflex to flush the eye when it is irritated or injured. These tears gush out in such a large amount that they overwhelm the tear drainage system and spill out onto one’s lower eyelid and cheek. Common situations that produce reflex tears: cutting onions, accidentally scratching your eye, and being around smoke. In dry eye syndrome, the lack of tears actually irritates the front surface of the eye, and reflex tears can result. The disease is often difficult to diagnose, and can be confused with other conditions that affect the front surface of the eye, such as allergies or infections.
Along with the above symptoms, certain characteristics seen on eye examination can be clues to dry eye syndrome. Mild conjunctival redness (from dilated blood vessels), and tiny spots of dryness or inflammation on the cornea in a certain pattern are commonly seen with dry eye.
Certain testing may be undertaken by the doctor in order to measure the level of tear production (both lubricating and reflex tear production may be measured), and to measure how quickly the tear film evaporates between blinks.
When dry eye is accompanied by inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), special lid cleaning techniques and antibiotics may be given.
Artificial teardrop use helps to make up for the lack of natural lubricating tears. This is the most common therapy for dry eye. There are numerous over-the-counter brands of artificial tears that come in liquid or a thicker gel form (usually reserved for night-time use). Some contain preservatives, some do not. Preservatives may cause irritation in those with sensitive eyes and in those that use teardrops multiple times daily.
Restasis and Xiidra are anti-inflammatory medications that lead to increased tear production by reducing inflammation. They are the only treatments proven to increase tear production!
Puncta are the holes in your eyelids that lead to the drainage ducts that drain your tears into your nose. Punctal plugs are made of very soft flexible silicone, and can really only be seen with a microscope. These instruments do exactly what they sound like: they plug up the tear drainage system and allow the tears to remain wetting the front of the eye (imagine plugging the drain in the sink). The procedure is quick and painless, and can usually be done in less than 3-4 minutes in the office.
Sometimes, dry eye is so severe that there is a large amount of inflammation affecting the front surface of the eye. In these cases, the doctor might recommend temporarily using anti-inflammatory eyedrops such as steroids until the condition begins to improve.
Tired of reading glasses?
The Kamra corneal inlay could be the treatment for you- this is the first FDA approved procedure in the US for the treatment of presbyopia (loss of near vision).Learn More
Bladeless Laser Cataract Surgery
Bringing LASIK laser technology to cataract surgery is revolutionizing the procedure due to increased accuracy. The surgery is now not only bladeless, but the unprecedented precision allows each patient to have a treatment customized to their eye.Make Appointment
We will do our best to accommodate your busy schedule. Request an appointment today!Request Now
Read Our Reviews
"Dr. Rhodes is a master at getting your vision right. I love not wearing glasses; colors are brighter, vision is clearer. He explains what is going on with your vision and what he is going to do for you in a manner that is clear and understandable. Also, it's a small thing, but increasingly rare, every time I have an appointment, I am seen within a few minutes of the appointed time. I recommend Dr. Rhodes to everyone I know, he is just that good!"
- Charles B.
"I am very impressed during my first visit with Dr. Dang, from the front desk to the nurses, gave me a good feeling who Dr.Dang is. Dr. Dang is an excellent doctor, very thorough, approachable, kind and polite. It didn't give me a second thought to go ahead with my cataract surgery. I am extremely happy with him and his team during my surgery. I'm blessed I found an excellent doctor like him and proud to recommend to anyone."
-Susan G. in Round Rock, TX
Feb 09, 2016
We have over 1,000 happy reviewers!Read Doctor Connect Reviews Read Demand Force Reviews