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Dry Eyes

The eye depends on the flow of tears to provide constant moisture and lubrication to maintain proper vision and comfort. Tears are a combination of water, for moisture; oils, for lubrication; mucus, for even spreading; and antibodies and special proteins, for resistance to infection. These components are secreted by special glands located around the eye. When there is an imbalance in this tear system, a person may experience dry eyes.

When tears do not adequately lubricate the eye, a person may experience:

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Sometimes, a person with a dry eye will have excess tears running down the cheeks (called “reflex tearing”), which may seem confusing. This happens when the eye is irritated from dry eyes. The eye sends a distress signal through the nervous system for more lubrication. In response, the eye is flooded with tears to try to compensate for the underlying dryness (it’s similar to getting sand in your eye, which causes your eye to tear a lot). However, these tears are mostly water and do not have the lubricating qualities or the rich composition of normal tears. They will wash debris away, but they will not coat the eye surface properly.

Dry Eyes Evaluation and Treatment

To determine if dry eye syndrome is present, a slit lamp exam is performed first looking at the tear film, lacrimal lake, and tear film breakup time. Once this is done a schemers test may be completed or treatment with artificial tears may be recommended. If artificial tears are not helpful, then temporary plugging of the puncta that drains the tears from the eyes may be recommended. There are times when punctual plugs may not be adequate and permanent closure may be recommended. Dr. Dvorak will go over all of these details with you at your appointment to make sure your questions are answered.

If you have questions or concerns about dry eye care, Dvorak Eye Clinic can help.

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