Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry Eye Syndrome (DES), or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition that occurs when the eyes are unable to produce tears of the proper quantity or chemical composition. Tears are necessary for overall eye health: they moisten the eye, keep away harmful debris, help ocular wounds heal, and protect against infection. Up to 30% of Canadians are affected by DES, of which there are two main types:

    • Aqueous tear-deficient: a disorder in which the lacrimal glands are unable to produce enough of the watery component in the tears to help maintain a healthy ocular surface.
    • Evaporative: This disorder is caused by inflammation of the meibomian glands located in the eyelid. These glands are responsible for producing the oily layer of the tears. Without this layer, tears can be unstable and evaporate too quickly.

What are the risk factors for Dry Eye Syndrome?

DES can be caused by a multitude of factors, including some of the following:

    • Increased age
    • Female gender
    • Hormonal changes such as menopause
    • Contact lens wear
    • Exposure to dry or dusty environments
    • Presence of autoimmune or connective tissue disorders
    • Long-term use of certain drugs such as antihistamines, nasal decongestants, anti-depressants, retinoids and tranquilizers
    • Inflammation of the conjunctiva
    • Skin conditions that affect the eyelids such as acne rosacea
    • High or low dosage of vitamins
    • Inadequate blinking frequency or magnitude

What are the symptoms of DES?

Since tears are an integral part of a number of ocular processes, DES can present with a wide range of symptoms. Some common symptoms include:

    • Scratchy, sandy sensation
    • Foreign body sensation (or the feeling that something is inside the eye)
    • Excessive tearing
    • Blurry vision
    • Swollen eyelids
    • Red eyes
    • Itching or burning of the eyes
    • Soreness
    • Light sensitivity

What is the Treatment for DES?

DES is a chronic and often progressive condition, and may not be completely curable. However, DES can be managed successfully, resulting in improved comfort and sometimes clearer vision as well. Because DES has a number of causes, treatment options vary from patient to patient, and may include:

    • Artificial tears
    • Lubricating ointments
    • Anti-inflammatory drops
    • Restasis
    • Meibomian gland expression
    • Warm compresses
    • Cliradex cleansing wipes
    • Punctal plugs
    • Nutritional supplements
    • Bleph Ex

What should I do if I think I have DES?

My Optometrist Calgary is the home of the Calgary Dry Eye and Ocular Wellness Clinic. This clinic was created to enable our doctors to thoroughly assess the health of your ocular surface, develop a customized treatment plan for you, and administer specialized treatments in-office. To find out more about the Calgary Dry Eye and Ocular Wellness Clinic, please click here..