Dry eye syndrome, dry eyes, tear film, artificial tears - A State of Sight #14

Isaac Porter, MD at Lowry Porter Ophthalmology in Raleigh explains dry eye syndrome in this episode of A State of Sight. Includes a description of the tear film, causes of dry eyes, and treatment options.

Welcome to A State of Sight, I’m Isaac Porter from Lowry Porter Ophthalmology and we are bringing you the latest in ophthalmology and eye care from Raleigh, NC. In this episode, I would like to explain dry eye syndrome which is a very common problem that affects many people.
In order to better understand dry eyes, let’s first take a look at the tear film and how it should function to protect and lubricate the eye. The tears should cover the entire surface of the eye with a thin layer that gets redistributed every time you blink to keep the eye well lubricated.
This tear film should last all the way to the next blink and if it’s functioning properly your eyes can be comfortable. The tear film is made up of two important components, an oily part and a watery part. If either of these are missing or not functioning like they should, you can get problems from dry eyes.
Most people that have dry eyes can get redness, irritation, or their eye can feel like there is something in it . Some people with dry eyes even have a watery eye that runs tears because the eye is trying to make up for all the dryness. Many people are affected by dry eyes and we see that it’s more common the older people get.
Other things like medications can cause dry eyes and some systemic diseases like Sjogren`s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis can contribute to dry eyes. In order to treat dry eye syndrome most effectively, we first need to address the root of the problem, whether it is a problem with the oily component of the tears or the watery component.
Anyone can benefit from using artificial tears to provide extra lubrication. Also, controlling the environment to ensure that air and heating is not blowing directly on the eye can provide relief. Computer vision syndrome is also a common cause of dry eyes because when you are reading or staring at something your eyes don’t blink as much. See this episode of A State of Sight for more info on computer vision syndrome.
For people that have a problem with the oily part of the tears we try to increase the natural oil production by using medications or warm compresses. There are oil glands that run in a row along the eyelashes of the upper and lower eyelids that release natural oils onto the eye. In some people these oils become thick, clogged, and don’t flow like they should and these treatments can help increase the natural oil production.
Other people do not make enough of the watery tears and that may be helped with medications as well. I know a lot of you might have dry eyes and the good thing about having dry eyes is that we can usually get you comfortable. However, it may take a stepwise treatment where we do more and more until we get you where you need to be.
If you have any questions about dry eyes please interact with us below, we will be happy to answer your questions. Until next time on A State of Sight, good health and good sight.