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Dry Eye Disease – A Common but Irritating Condition

Posted on: January 22nd, 2024 by Our Team

Dry Eye Disease, also known as Ocular Surface Disease, is an uncomfortable and unfortunate prevalent condition.  It is estimated that 16 million people in the U.S. have Dry Eye Disease.  Dry Eye is multifactorial, characterized by unstable tear film that causes a variety of symptoms and/or visual impairment.  In severe cases, it can damage the surface of the eye.  According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, inflammation may be an underlying cause of Dry Eye Disease.  It can be triggered by various factors such as:

  • Contact lenses
  • Antihistamines
  • Prolonged device time
  • Aging
  • Low humidity, cold or windy places
  • Changes in hormones
  • Excessive reading

The most common symptoms of this disease are a feeling of irritation, burning, heaviness, fatigue or a foreign body sensation. Symptoms often worsen throughout the day as more ocular effort is exerted.  Patients often find that different treatments work best for them. In the most mild cases, simple lubrication with non-preserved artificial tears can be helpful.  In instances where dry eye is more significant, and particularly when it is associated with systemic inflammatory conditions, medicated dry eye conditions are appropriate.  There are also types of ocular surface disease that occur as a result of the pathology of nearby structures.  These require treatment targeting the underlying cause.

Although most dry eye symptoms result from benign conditions, it is essential to also rule out other less benign diagnoses that may be contributing to the patient’s signs and symptoms such as systemic autoimmune disease, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, or abnormalities of the eyelids.

There are a number of symptoms that can lead an individual to think he or she may have Dry Eye Disease but it requires the expertise of an Ophthalmologist to accurately diagnose and properly treat this condition or rule out other issues or factors that may be something other than Dry Eye Disease that are masking the condition.

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