Dry eye syndrome affects more than 30 million Americans. It occurs when your tear glands produce either an inadequate amount or an insufficient quality of tear film. These complications can cause tear evaporation and considerable discomfort.
The term dysfunctional tear syndrome can refer to a variety of tear film issues and does not necessarily mean your eyes feel dry. In fact, many sufferers of the condition have chronically watery eyes.
Dr. John Kirk understands the impact dry eye syndrome can have on your life and is committed to providing the safest and most advanced methods for examining, diagnosing and treating the condition. If you are suffering from dry eyes and you are ready to find relief, call (970) 744-2566 or complete the form on this page to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kirk. We proudly serve patients from Loveland, Windsor and Fort Collins.
What Causes Dry Eye?
A healthy tear film is necessary to keep the surface of your eyes moist, smooth and clear. Your tear film is not made up of water. Your tear film is made up of three main layers: a sticky inner mucous layer that helps the tear film adhere to the surface of your eye, a watery middle layer that cleans the eye and an oily outer layer that minimizes tear evaporation. If one of these layers is disrupted, it can cause problems with the others.
If, for example, the oily outer layer of your tear film is deficient, your tears may evaporate too quickly, causing your eyes to feel dry, coarse and achy. The body sometimes reacts to this problem by overproducing tears, which results in excessively watery eyes.
Dry eye syndrome, perhaps more accurately thought of as dysfunctional tear syndrome, can be caused by a broad range of factors, including pollution, dry climate, allergies, certain medications, age and auto-immune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It is a chronic and typically progressive condition.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome
Some of the most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:
- Blurry or double vision, particularly in the morning or evening
- Increased irritation from allergens and smoke
- Difficulty with contact lenses
- Eye fatigue
- Light sensitivity
- Feeling as though something is in your eye
- Burning sensation in the eyes
- Soreness in the eyes
- Scratchy, gritty feeling eyes
- Excessive tearing
Dry Eye Treatment
Since dry eye syndrome can result from a number of causes, a variety of treatment methods may be considered. After thoroughly examining your eyes, Dr. Kirk will recommend the best treatment for your unique situation and specific needs. Treatment options at Kirk Eye Center may include:
- Artificial Tears: For mild cases of dry eyes, artificial tears or other lubricating eye drops are often the first step toward relief. Eye drops come in a variety of ingredients and viscosity (thickness). Dr. Kirk will explain which option is best for you.
- Gels and Ointments: Similar to artificial tears, gels and ointments are recommended by Dr. Kirk to help lubricate and soothe your uncomfortable eyes.
- Tear Duct Plugs: Also called punctal plugs, a tear duct plug is a small device that is inserted into the inner corners of your eyelids, preventing tears from draining away from the eye.
- Restasis: This prescription eye drop lubricates the eye’s surface while also reducing inflammation. It helps your body produce natural tears, keeping our eyes healthy, moist and comfortable.
- Steroid Eye Drops: These eye drops are often used in conjunction with artificial tears and Restasis to manage inflammation issues. These are typically used as short-term treatments to compliment long-term solutions.
- Serum Tears: In severe cases, the immune factors present in your bloodstream can be beneficial in counteracting the autoimmune factors that contribute to dry eye. Serum from your blood is combined with artificial tears to produce serum tears.
If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome in the Loveland, Windsor or Fort Collins areas, please contact Kirk Eye Center today by calling (970) 744-2566 or completing the form on this page to schedule an appointment.