Leader Heights Eye Center, 309 Leader Heights Road, York, PA 17402 • Phone: (717) 747-5430

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Dry Eye

Dry Eye Syndrome Dry eye is a common problem. It is a disease in which you are either not making enough tears or are making poor quality tears. Usually, there is inflammation of the tear-producing glands. Dry eye can be caused by many different conditions and environmental factors. One factor is hormonal -- post-menopausal women are plagued by dry eyes especially often. Many systemic diseases and medications can contribute to dry eyes. Some of the more common ones: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia; decongestants, blood pressure medications, anti-depressants and birth control pills. Symptoms include: dryness, redness, irritation, foreign body sensation, burning, stinging, and, ironically, tearing. Symptoms are usually worse at the end of the day. Eye fatigue with prolonged reading or computer use is common, because you don’t blink as often as normally, so the few tears you do produce evaporate quickly. For mild symptoms, the use of good artificial tears can bring relief. Use them liberally. If you use tears more than three times per day, be sure you are using a really good brand, one not preserved with benzalkonium chloride (BAK) -- read the tiny print on the bottle. Store brands are usually preserved with BAK. Try a number of different brands--you will probably find a particular one that works best for you. Some brands of good artificial tears are Refresh, Optive, Soothe, Theratears, Genteal. These each have several variations, and they are all good quality products. For moderate to severe dry eyes, Restasis is usually a good idea. This is a prescription drop that is used two times a day and is used permanently. Restasis actually cures the dry eyes by quelling the inflammation of the eyes’ surface that both aggravates the disease and perpetuates it. Inflammation causes dryness, and dryness causes inflammation. Most insurance companies cover this medication (with your usual copays). Punctal plugs can be used to block the tear ducts that drain tears out of your eyes. They are small plugs that go into the small hole in each eyelid. They allow the tears that you do produce to hang around longer. A good alternative to the plugs is to cauterize the ducts, or punctal cautery. Cautery avoids some problems that sometimes occur with plugs, such as falling out or causing irritation. Both the plugs and the cautery are quick, simple office procedures. One form of dry eyes is caused by blepharitis. This is an inflammation of the eyelids, where some of your tears are made. Blepharitis causes the tears to be acidic and evaporate quickly. Treating this inflammation can help the dry eye symptoms. We will let you know if you have blepharitis and how to treat it. Taking omega 3 supplements can improve symptoms in some people. A good fish oil capsule is recommended and is good for your general health, too. Dry eyes can be quite miserable. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you are still uncomfortable, even after we have tried some treatments. There is a lot we can do for this.