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Do your eyes itch, burn, water, or feel tired? Do you feel as if you have grit or sand in your eyes, especially at the end of the day or after you have been reading? While these symptoms can be associated with a variety of different ocular conditions, one of the most common problems that causes these symptoms is dry eyes or keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This condition is also known as Dysfunctional Tear Syndrome (DTS), a name which reflects recent knowledge that it is not always a low quantity of tears but often, poor tear quality that may cause dry eyes. For example, if there is an insufficient lipid (or oil) layer of the tear film, the tears that are made will evaporate too quickly, causing dry eye symptoms, even if there is an adequate aqueous (or water) layer.

When the surface of the eye gets dry, nerves from the cornea send a message to the lacrimal (or tear) gland, causing it to make “reflex tears,” which cause watery eyes or tearing. There are a wide range of treatments available for dry eyes. The most common initial treatment is with artificial tears or lubricating eye drops. When artificial tears are not enough to control symptoms, your doctor may recommend nutritional supplements, prescription medications, or an in-office procedure to provide relief from dry eyes.

Certain medications may exacerbate dry eyes. Aging, hormonal changes, other health conditions such as thyroid or autoimmune disease, eyelid malpositions, and environmental conditions may also contribute to dry eyes. As temperatures start to drop and furnaces are turned on, many people may experience worsening of dry eye symptoms. This is because the warm dry air has less humidity, causing your natural tears to evaporate more quickly.

If you think you may be suffering from dry eyes, contact us to schedule an evaluation, so that we can recommend the appropriate treatment for you.