What Is a Chronic Dry Eye?

Chronic dry eye is an inflammatory disorder which affects tears and the surface of the eyes which affects between 5 and 30 percent of the population age 50 and older in the United States.

What Is a Chronic Dry Eye? in Olympia

American Family Vision Clinic

The Basics of Chronic Dry Eye

Chronic dry eye is dry eye caused by one of a number of underlying conditions which lead to either an underproduction of tears (aqueous tear-deficient dry eye) or a problem with the tear composition (evaporative dry eye). This is differentiated from dry eye which is caused by environmental or other factors which can be more easily treated. Although, external factors such as dry environments, allergies, and LASIK can aggravate chronic dry eye.

Chronic dry eye can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Chronic dry eye disease can damage ocular tissues and in very serious cases, lead to scarring of the cornea. Chronic dry eye sufferers in one study reported a decrease in quality of life that was as high as breaking one's hip due to the pain and physical limitations that was experienced.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of chronic dry eye include general dryness and discomfort, along with a burning, stinging, or gritty feeling in the eyes. Blurry vision is also a common symptom.

 

What can cause or contribute to chronic dry eye?

There are several potential causes of chronic dry eye. These include:

  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes due to aging and menopause, as well as birth control, can affect the tears and lead to dry eye. Hormonal changes are a major reason why women are significantly more likely to suffer from chronic dry eye.
  • Medications: Medications such as diuretics, antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control, and hormone replacement therapy have been linked to chronic dry eye.
  • Other Medical Conditions: A range of medical conditions, particularly autoimmune diseases like arthritis, rosacea, sarcoidosis, and lupus. People with Sjorgen's syndrome, Parkinson's disease, and diabetes also often have dry eye.
  • Other Contributing Factors: Deficiencies in certain vitamins, as well as environmental factors, can contribute to dry eye.
Common Symptoms
How to Know if You Have Chronic Dry Eye

How to Know if You Have Chronic Dry Eye

If you experience the symptoms of dry eye (such as redness, stinging, burning, or gritty sensations in the eyes) over an extended period of time. 

In milder cases, symptoms may come and go, and in more severe cases they will be more regular and severe. 

How to Know if You Have Chronic Dry Eye

What Can Be Done For Chronic Dry Eye?

Dry eye isn’t something that can be simply cured, but it can be effectively treated and the symptoms managed. The most important thing for dry eye is determining the precise cause, as that will help you and your doctor better determine which treatment methods are likely to have the most impact.

The most commonly used treatment is artificial tears. In more severe cases, other treatments, such as punctal plugs, can be used.

Can Chronic Dry Eye Be Prevented?

There is no definitive way to prevent chronic dry eye. However, there are ways to reduce one’s risk.

Avoiding things which cause dryness, such as low humidity areas, wind, and fair dryers, can help. Using a humidifier while indoor heat is used, or wraparound glasses while outdoors, can provide some help. Remaining properly hydrated is also always a good idea.

Additionally, if you already suffer from dry eye, taking breaks while using devices with screens can help prevent symptoms from becoming further aggravated.

Changes to your diet or reducing or changing your medication, as directed by a doctor, can also help provide some relief.

Common Symptoms
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Summary

Chronic dry eye, where symptoms of dry eye persist for extended periods of time, can be an unpleasant condition to live with. While there is no easy cure, chronic dry eye’s symptoms can be managed with proper treatments, as directed by a doctor. If you are suffering from dry eye, you can schedule an appointment for a consultation at American Family Vision Clinic by contacting us at (360) 491-2121.

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