Monday, May 18, 2009

DO I HAVE DRY EYES?

People with dry eyes often experience sandy, gritty, irritated, or burning eyes. Often patients describe that they have a feeling that there is trash in their eyes. Patients are surprised to discover that they have dry eyes, as they frequently notice excessive tearing.

The tear film consists of three layers. The outside layer is the oily layer and it functions to decrease evaporation of the tear film. The middle layer is the aqueous or water layer. The inner layer is the mucous layer that helps to lubricate the eye.

Dry eye is caused by any condition that can decrease tear production or increase tear film evaporation. Often, this can be caused by a dietary insufficiency of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These fatty acids can be found in foods such as salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel.

Sometimes dry eyes are seen in young adults, but it becomes more prevalent increases with age. Women are affected more frequently than men.

The sensation of feeling like your eyes are tearing are due to the loss of the oil layer that helps hold tears tight to the eye surface. With this coating impaired, the tears will splash around more when you blink, and it feels like you are tearing.

Artificial tears are the basic treatment for dry eyes. In addition, eating the above fish that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids are helpful, or second best, taking a supplement containing Omega-3 fatty acids. If these drops do not sufficiently take care of the problem, then tear duct plugs can be used. These plugs are temporary and do not allow the tears to drain from the eye, allowing the eye to stay wetter, longer. For more severe cases, a drop such as Restasis may be used twice a day with excellent results.

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