What is Dry Eye Syndrome? Dry Eye Syndrome is a very common eye condition that affects men and women of all ages. Even though it usually does not cause significant vision loss like AMD or cataracts, dry eye syndrome does have a significant impact on overall eye health, and the symptoms can affect a person’s quality of life. Dry eye syndrome is often called ocular surface disease. It does not necessarily mean that a person has a deficiency of tears but an imbalance of the tear film.

The tear film is composed of three layers: aqueous (water), lipid (oil), and mucous. In dry eye syndrome, various factors disrupt the balance of these three layers.

The symptoms of dry eye syndrome vary greatly. People who suffer from this condition rarely report that their eyes actually feel dry. Dry eye syndrome affects people of all ages with varying degrees of severity. Mild dry eye syndrome may cause the feeling that something is in the eye or a burning sensation. Moderate to severe dry eye syndrome can cause eye pain and profound watering of the eyes.
What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • • Burning eyes
  • • Watery eyes
  • • Foreign body sensation
  • • Redness
  • • Discharge
  • • Light sensitivity
What are the causes of dry eye syndrome?

  • • Environment
  • • Eyelid disease (blepharitis or meibomianitis)
  • • Dietary imbalance (High omega 6
      omega 3 intake ratio)
  • • Medication
  • • Systemic disease (such as Sjogren’s
      syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • • Contact lenses
  • • Computer use
Prevention of dry eye syndrome:

  • • Enjoy a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids
      including fish with a high omega 3 fatty acid
      content and flaxseed
  • • Do not over wear contact lenses
  • • Take artificial tear drops if advised by your eye   doctor
What is the current treatment for dry eye syndrome? There are many treatment options available for dry eye syndrome, depending on the cause and severity of the condition. The most important factor in the success of dry eye treatment is patient compliance. Many people find the treatment too much trouble and do not follow through with their doctors’ recommendations. This can lead to frustration and discouragement for both the patient and the doctor.

If you think you may have dry eye syndrome, discuss your treatment options with your eye doctor. Be aware that the treatment of your condition will be an involved process and may require frequent follow-up visits. With patience and perseverance, some of the following treatments can decrease the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
  • • Artificial tear drops
  • • Warm compresses and eyelid scrubs (a special product to cleanse the eyelids)
  • • Anti-inflammatory medications (such as Restasis™ or mild steroid eye drops)
  • • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • • What to look for in a high-quality
         omega-3 supplement
      • • Natural triglyceride form for
          maximal absorption
      • • Highly purified and concentrated
      • • Consult with you optometrist for
          correct therapeutic dose for you
  • • Punctal occlusion (blocking tear ducts to decrease tear drainage)
In our optometric practices, we see patients every day who are suffering from dry eye syndrome. Most people are looking for a quick cure for their symptoms. However, what they do not realize is that dry eye syndrome is a chronic disease, and that the symptoms are a sign of inflammation in the eye. Just as it takes time for dry eye syndrome to cause discomfort, burning, or watering of the eyes, so does the treatment take time to be effective.

Research References: Pinheiro Jr, M. dos Santos, P, et al. 2007. Oral flax seed oil (linum usitatissimum) in the treatment for dry-eye Sjogren's syndrome patients. Arq Bras Oftalmol 70: 649-655.
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