At our ophthalmology offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, NY, dry eye is a fairly common condition experienced by both women and men. Dry eye syndrome occurs when the tears produced fail to adequately lubricate and protect our eyes. Even though the causes of this condition can vary, it’s often associated with age; millions of Americans over 50 have dry eye symptoms.
What Is Dry Eye?
Dry eye syndrome is a bit more complicated than its name implies. Even though most people who suffer from this uncomfortable condition feel that their eyes are noticeably dry, the reasons can vary. Tears produced each time we blink are crucial to eye health. Tears, however, aren’t just saltwater. Tears are made up of 3 distinct layers:
- External oily layer
- Middle watery layer
- Inner mucus-based layer
Three different glands produce the tears’ different layers and having a problem with any of these components can create dry eye syndrome. There are actually different categories of dry eyes, depending on which layer is affected. The lacrimal gland, which produces the watery layer, is usually the source of dry eyes.
Dry Eye Symptoms
What does it feel like to have dry eye syndrome? There is actually a range of symptoms, but they typically include at least 1 or more of the following:
- You feel like your eyes are stinging and burning
- There is a scratchy or gritty feeling like something is in your eye
- There are strings of mucus in or around your eyes
- Your eyes are red or irritated, especially when you are in the wind or near cigarette smoke
- It is painful to wear contact lenses
- You have lots of tears in your eyes
Even though dry eye is most often diagnosed in adults age 50 and older the condition can occur at any age. Some medications, including decongestants and antidepressants, can cause dry eye symptoms. Fluctuating hormone levels, medical conditions such as diabetes, and spending a lot of time on the computer can also cause dry eye. Additionally, living in a dry or windy climate is associated with the condition.
Helping People Is What We Do
- Prescription or over-the-counter drops: Artificial tears prescribed by your eye doctor or products you can buy at the drug store can both reduce inflammation and add moisture. Your doctor will recommend the option that’s best for your condition.
- In-office procedures: These quick, comfortable, and effective procedures for dry eye can range from temporarily plugging the drainage ducts to expressing the glands that produce the oil component of tears. These glands can occasionally become clogged and create dry eye symptoms.
- Home care: Some steps you can take on your own to reduce the symptoms of dry eye include trying to blink more frequently, especially when you’re working on the computer, investing in high-quality sunglasses that shield your eyes from the wind as well as sun, and taking care to remove all of your eye makeup and thoroughly wash your face at the end of the day.
At New York Ophthalmology, patients diagnosed with dry eye receive personalized care from our experienced ophthalmologists at our NYC and Long Island locations. Request an appointment using the online form or call us at (866) 599-8774 to schedule an appointment at one of our offices.
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