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Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)

Burning, stinging, redness, scratchiness and eye pain are some of the symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome (DES). DES is an important health problem that can have significant effects on quality-of-life.

Millions of Americans suffer from DES. About 6% of women under 50 and 10% over 75 are affected. Younger women and men are also affected. A recent survey found that DES sufferers are 3 times more likely to have trouble driving, reading and using a computer.

One of the most common symptoms is excessive tearing. You might ask: How can the eye be ‘dry’ despite producing tears? Reflex tearing (tearing when something flies in the eye), for example, is the body's unsuccessful attempt to correct the underlying dryness.

There may be many causes of DES, but most cases are due to aging, eyelid infections (blepharitis) and autoimmune disorders (Sjogren’s Syndrome). Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyelids that causes chronic redness and prevents the eyelids from producing important components of the tear film, aggravating DES symptoms.

The mainstay treatment is Restasis which is safe, and allergic reactions are rare. Omega 3 supplements also help alleviate symptoms when used with Restasis. Treatment of other associated conditions, including blepharitis, is also necessary. Artificial tears are used for minor symptoms.

January 5, 2017