Many people suffer from itchy, burning or watery eyes but assume there’s no way to treat the problem. A common cause of these symptoms is dry eye syndrome, a condition that affects tear production and/or drainage. Left untreated, it can even cause serious eye problems. Fortunately, dry eye is treatable.
More than 6.8% of the U.S. population— over 16 million people of all ages — suffer from Chronic Dry Eye Syndrome. It is estimated that less than half (45%) of those suffering from dry eye know it or have been properly diagnosed.
At The Eye Institute of West Florida, a comprehensive eye exam by a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in treating the cornea can reveal the stage and severity of dry eye syndrome.
Dry Eye Syndrome (DES), also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, refers to the clinical signs and symptoms that occur when the surface of the eye is not nourished by a healthy tear film or layer of lubricating tears. This can occur when the quantity or quality of the tears is deficient.
A complex recipe of ingredients is responsible for maintaining the health of our ocular surface, our eyes’ comfort, and our clear vision. When the specific balance of these components is disturbed by any one of many predisposing factors, Dry Eye Syndrome can result.
If unrecognized by your eye care provider, or if left untreated, Dry Eye Syndrome can result in chronically irritating symptoms, increased risk for infection, and decreased quality of vision.
Early Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome can include:
As Dry Eye Syndrome worsens, the associated symptoms may change. Patients may no longer notice the physical effects of dry eye, like burning, due to the subtle nerve damage that is a consequence of chronic dry eye syndrome. Previously watery eyes may become devoid of any tears at all. Fluctuating vision may give way to the consistently blurry vision that is not improved with changes in glasses or use of over the counter eye drops. Eyes may become persistently red or produce a mucous discharge. Recurrent scratches, erosions, or infections may also develop.
A comprehensive eye exam can reveal the stage and severity of your condition. Our team reviews your entire medical history, including an assessment of other medical conditions and medications, as well as environmental contributors.
A variety of non-invasive tests may be utilized to assess the quality and quantity of your tears.
The Schirmer Tear Test quantifies the rate of tear production. Corneal staining uses special dyes to assess the quality of tears and the condition of the ocular surface. “Tear Break-up Time” measures the stability of the tear film. Tear Film Osmolarity measures the osmolarity of tears to help in the diagnosis and treatment of dry eye syndrome. Laboratory tests may be used in more severe cases to look for underlying medical conditions that can cause chronically dry eyes.
It is estimated that approximately 55% of people who suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome have been misdiagnosed or are undiagnosed.
Since the underlying causes of dry eye have often been present for many years, the treatment of dry eye syndrome is not an overnight process. Treatment plans are highly individualized and no two cases are alike. A long-term course of therapy is needed in most cases. Treatment options may include:
Choose The Eye Institute of West Florida for your dry eye disease treatment to get the best vision results possible.
"After it was determined that my itchy eyes may have been a result of severe rosacea, I tried numerous therapies which did provide me with some relief. It wasn’t until the new laser came along did Dr. Desai
collaborate with my dermatologist before starting me on a laser treatment regimen. Just after treatments I can say it has been extremely helpful and the itching has mostly gone away."
Red – Patient of Dr. Neel Desai
Neel R. Desai, M.D. is a fellowship-trained, board-certified, ophthalmologist strictly specializing in LASIK, cataract and corneal diseases of the eye. Dr. Desai is a top graduate of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and completed his fellowship in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. He is recognized throughout the country and internationally as one of only 100 surgeons able to perform advanced corneal transplants and another complex cataract, corneal and refractive procedures. He holds pending patents to new surgical products and advanced cornea surgical procedures of his own design. Additionally, Dr. Desai has authored many book chapters in his field of study and continues to write articles in peer review journals.
Vasilios F. Diakonis, M.D. has completed training in Ophthalmology both in Europe and in the United States. He holds a Ph.D. in Refractive Surgery that was acquired under the supervision of Professor Loannis G. Pallikaris, a worldwide opinion leader in the field of Ophthalmology that developed LASIK surgery. Dr. Diakonis completed his residency at the University hospital where Professor Pallikaris was the chairman. After residency, he joined the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute for a 6-month research fellowship and then continued with a Corneal Fellowship for another 18 months. Dr. Diakonis has a strong academic record with more than 70 publications in scientific journals and serves as an Editorial Board Member in 2 peer review journals. His main research interests include Corneal Refractive Surgery, Corneal Cross-Linking for Keratoconus, and modern Femtosecond Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery. He is a member of the Young’s Ophthalmologist Committee and the education committee of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons.