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Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a result of the eye not producing enough tears, or the tears being of poor quality. A constant flow of tears is essential for good eye health, but in Australia and New Zealand around one in ten adults is affected by dry eye syndrome.

There are several possible causes of dry eye syndrome:

  • Medications such as antihistamines or antidepressants
  • Medical conditions such as Bell’s Palsy
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Sjorgen’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
  • Smoking
  • Getting older
  • Living in a windy or dry climate
  • Vision correction surgery
  • Long-term wearer of contact lenses

If you feel like you may be suffering from dry eye syndrome you should seek advice from your ophthalmologist.

Diagnosing Dry Eye Syndrome

In order to diagnose dry eye syndrome your ophthalmologist will want to know the symptoms you have displayed as well as examine your eyes. A special microscope called a slit lamp helps the ophthalmologist to assess the extent of the dryness. Your ophthalmologist may also carry out a Schirmer Test; this measures the eyes production of tears using a special paper strip that is placed under the lower eyelid. In some cases if autoimmune disease is suspected as a cause blood tests may be required.

Dry Eye Syndrome Treatment

Unfortunately dry eye syndrome is something that cannot be cured, but with appropriate treatment symptoms can be managed. For example regular use of artificial tears tears can relieve mild symptoms, and a lubricating eye ointment can be used at bedtime.

For more moderate symptoms a procedure called punctal occlusion can be used; a small plug is inserted into the puncta, a small drain in the inner corner of the upper and lower eyelids. This will prevent a patient’s tears from draining too quickly resulting in dry eyes. In some cases the openings to the lacrimal ducts are closed permanently.

In more severe cases where a person’s eyelids won’t close properly, lateral tarsorrhaphy may be performed. This is a procedure where the outside one third of the upper and lower eyelids are sewn together to assist in making closing the eye easier.

Before having treatment it is important that your ophthalmologist is aware of your medical history, and that you understand the risks, limitations and benefit of treatment. If you don’t seek dry eye syndrome treatment your symptoms and condition may continue to worsen.

If you think you may be suffering from dry eye syndrome and would like to know more about treatment options please get in touch on (02) 9868 2333.