Sources and Additional Reading
American Academy of Ophthalmology:
What are the Causes of Dry Eye?
- Aging: As we age, tear production decreases which can lead to dry eye in both men and women. However, after menopause and during pregnancy, women are especially susceptible to dry eye.
- Contact Lenses: Wearing contact lenses often increases tear evaporation. This can result in irritation, increased protein deposits, infection, and pain. Dry eye has been shown to be the leading cause of contact lens discomfort.
- Medications: A variety of common medications reduce tear secretion. These include decongestants, antihistamines, diuretics, beta-blockers, sleeping pills, antidepressants, pain relievers, and alcohol. Tear reduction from medications can be a cause of dry eye.
- Environment: Occasional or continual exposure to various environments can reduce eye lubrication and result in dry eye. Environmental causes include sunny, dry or windy conditions; areas with heaters, dehumidifiers, fans or air conditioners; work settings with chemicals or hair dryers; high altitudes, smoke or air pollution and sand, dust or airborne pollen.
- Auto Immune Diseases: Auto immune diseases can be accompanied by a dry mouth and dry eyes. This combination of symptoms is called Sjogren’s Syndrome.
- Screen time: Less frequent blinking is common when looking at a computer monitor. Blinking allows tears to spread across our eyes, keeping them moist and comfortable. When we don’t blink enough our eyes can feel dry and irritated.
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There Are Two Types of Dry Eye
Aqueous-deficient dry eye
In aqueous-deficient dry eye, the lacrimal glands (tear glands) do not produce an adequate aqueous layer, in many cases because they are affected by inflammation. Aqueous-deficient dry eye can be caused by:
- an autoimmune disease, such as Sjögrens Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
- some medications, such as oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapies, antihistamines, sedatives, antidepressants, isotretinoin for acne, anti-hypertensives, and medications to treat benign prostate hyperplasia
- some medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation or corneal surgeries
Evaporative dry eye
In evaporative dry eye, the lipid layer of the tear film is deficient or of poor quality because the meibomian glands are not functioning properly or are blocked, which is known as meibomian gland dysfunction. Common causes of meibomian gland dysfunction are eyelid inflammation (known as blepharitis) as well as rosacea and other skin disorders. Because evaporative dry eye compromises the lipid layer of the tear film, tears evaporate too quickly, leaving the surface of the eye exposed to discomfort and damage.
The eyelids and the eye’s surface can also play a role in ocular surface disease. If the lids are not working properly, either because of a problem with their structure or because they are inflamed, they cannot perform their crucial functions of spreading the tears across the surface of the eye to evenly lubricate it and remove irritants. When the surface of the eye itself is not smooth and regular, it can also result in problems with tear distribution.
Treatments for Dry Eye Disease
While artificial tears and medications provide a quick, short-term solution to dry eye, advances in research and technology have resulted in highly effective treatments for ocular surface disease.
- Punctal Plugs – Temporary closure of the tear duct (punctal canal) is accomplished by inserting a tiny plug (like a sink stopper) to prevent tear drainage. This allows your own tears to bathe your eye for a longer period of time. In about one week this plug will dissolve and wash away with your tears. Together we will evaluate the benefits of tear duct closure for you.
Long-term closure of the tear drainage ducts involves the use of a non-dissolvable, yet removable, plug to seal the tear duct. This is a painless procedure that takes only a few minutes in our doctor’s office.
- Prokera® – a medical device that resembles a large contact lens. It is made of amniotic tissue, which is known for its natural therapeutic actions and heals your eye faster with less pain, scarring, and inflammation. The amniotic tissue used in Prokera is provided by a tissue bank regulated by the FDA and has passed numerous quality control tests making it safe and effective. Clinical studies have shown Prokera reduces the signs and symptoms of dry eye, and helps soothe pain, heal the eye, and improve vision.
- OptiLight – Intense pulsed light therapy, also known as IPL is an effective treatment for dry eye by increasing tear production and improving symptoms.
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We are the Lehigh Valley’s leading provider of treatments for dry eye disease. Dr. Julie McLaughlin is accepting new patients and is eager to give you a better quality of life with the best management of your dry eye symptoms. Stop suffering from itchy, burning, red eyes. Improve the quality of your life and call today!
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Lehigh Eye Specialists is an industry leader in providing diagnoses and surgery for retinal diseases and conditions. Our dry eye specialist, Dr. McLaughlin provides clients with unparalleled care.
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