What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
All of us will deal with dry, itchy eyes at some point, but if it lingers for more than a few days or takes place frequently, it could be dry eye syndrome. This extremely common eye condition is caused by either insufficient tears or unbalanced tear components, which could be caused by medical conditions, certain medications, or lifestyle factors. Tears are vital to the overall health of the eyes; that's why when they are unbalanced, it can result in extreme discomfort of the eyes and even problems with vision. Dry eye syndrome is nearly always caused by an underlying condition, and once this underlying illness is discovered and treated, its symptoms can be drastically reduced.
Board-certified ophthalmology Dr. Daniel Tepper provides several solutions for patients in Chicago, IL, and the surrounding areas who are experiencing dry eye syndrome. He will perform an in-depth eye exam to accurately assess your dry eye symptoms and confirm whether you have an underlying cause. To hear more about management options for dry eye syndrome, get in touch with Wicker Park Eye Center to make an appointment for your exam.
What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?
People who develop dry eye syndrome often deal with hazy vision and red, irritated, stinging eyes. A lot of patients feel like they always have something in their eyes or experience pain when wearing contact lenses. Often, individuals who have dry eyes also report that their eyes feel heavy and sore. Occasionally, they develop light sensitivity and/or notice problems with night vision. In contrast to what the name implies, dry eye syndrome can, for some patients, trigger even more tears to attempt to compensate for the condition. Dry eye syndrome involves the recurrent experience of several or all of these symptoms and often causes problems in day-to-day duties and hobbies.
"Wicker Park Eye Center helped me immensely during my short stay in Chicago! I lost my contacts and didn't have glasses, and needed to drive 100 miles back home, and Tania from Wicker Park Eye Center was so kind and patient. Thank you again for all the help!"- J.M. / Google / Jun 19, 2021
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Am I a candidate for dry eye treatment?
You likely qualify for treatment for your dry eyes if you experience one or more of the following:
- Persistent redness
- Light sensitivity
- Itchy, burning, or scratchy sensations in your eyes
- Watery eyes
- Difficulty keeping contact lenses in or driving at night
If you suffer from one or more of the above symptoms, please bring them up with Dr. Tepper in your appointment. If diagnosed with dry eye, there are treatments that we offer at Wicker Park Eye Center to help you heal and address your dry eyes.
What causes dry eye syndrome?
The two main causes of dry eye syndrome are a lack of tears or poor-quality tears. The production of tears has three main parts, and there are different types of dry eye syndrome that are diagnosed according to which part is being affected. The lacrimal glands generate the tears, the meibomian glands produce the oils within the tears, and the goblet cells blend them together. Dry eye syndrome could occur whenever any of these three aspects of tear production goes awry. A lot of different factors can impact each of these components, including hormonal changes, eye strain, underlying conditions like lupus, and specific prescription medications. Risks for dry eye syndrome include:
- Women are more prone to developing dry eyes
- Aging increases the risk for dry eyes
- Certain medications like antihistamines, birth control, antidepressants, and acne medications
- Skin conditions including blepharitis, rosacea, etc.
How is Dry Eye Syndrome Diagnosed?
Dry eye syndrome can usually be diagnosed by discussing the severity and frequency of your symptoms with Dr. Tepper during an eye exam. That said, properly treating your dryness requires further investigation into the underlying causes. Note that dry eye can actually cause excessive tearing as the lacrimal glands struggle to relieve dryness and irritation. Whether your eyes are too dry or too watery, do not put off scheduling an exam at Wicker Park Eye Center in Chicago, IL.
Dr. Tepper might also conduct a slit lamp exam to confirm that your eyes are not producing enough tears. Some practitioners will administer the Schirmer tear test to determine whether you suffer from a low volume of tears. A small strip of filter paper will be placed inside the lower eyelid, and readings can be taken after just five minutes. More rarely, testing is conducted to assess the quality of your tears.
How is Dry Eye Syndrome Treated?
Your personalized dry eye treatment will be based on the underlying cause of your dry eyes. Following an in-depth exam and a review of any past conditions, Dr. Tepper will be able to determine which treatment will be most effective for your specific case. Most people with minor cases of dry eye syndrome can ease the symptoms with prescription or drugstore artificial tears and eye drops for dry eyes. These solutions can complement your actual tears. If your dry eye syndrome doesn't respond to eye drops, special plugs can be put in your tear ducts (called punctal occlusion) to close them off and hold the real tears in the eye.
“Dry eye disease deserves serious professional — and personal — attention. It can be very debilitating and seriously diminish a person’s quality of life.”
- Dr. Rachel Bishop, a chief consulting ophthalmologist at the National Eye Institute
Dry Eyes FAQs
Can dry eyes cause blindness?
There is a small chance that eye dryness may be a symptom of an underlying condition that could lead to more severe results, such as blindness. In addition, unaddressed dry eyes can damage the organic structures in your eye and increase your chance of getting eye infections. If you have dry eyes that persist, contact Wicker Park Eye Center today to address your dry eyes in a manageable state.
What causes dry eyes?
The functional cause of dry eyes happens when tear ducts do not work effectively. There are a variety of other medical concerns that might trigger dry eye, including diabetes, prior laser eye surgery, allergies, contacts, and diabetes. Increasing age may also play a role in drying or malfunctioning tear ducts.
Is there a cure for dry eyes?
There is no way to cure dry eyes. However, our Chicago, IL patients can rest assured that there are a variety of effective treatments. We will find the ideal treatment plan for you to protect your vision health and help you return to the quality of life you deserve.
Get Relief for Your Dry Eyes
Suffering from dry eye syndrome is not only a serious annoyance, but it can also lead to a decreased ability to see if left untreated. If you are suffering from dry eye symptoms and trying to treat them with over-the-counter solutions, schedule an exam at our Chicago, IL facility. Dr. Daniel Tepper and his team at Wicker Park Eye Center can diagnose and manage the various categories of dry eye syndrome. Take the first step toward overcoming dry eyes today. Schedule an appointment with us to learn more about the cause of your dry eye symptoms and what we can do to find relief.
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