Dysfunctional Tear Syndromes

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dry Eye Dysfunctional Tear Syndrome

If Reading this Makes your Eyes Tired or Blurry, it could be Related to your Tears

By Dr. Ravi A. Shah

Many people are surprised to learn that dysfunctional tear dysfunctional tear syndrome or dry eye syndrome can actually cause blurred vision. The surface of the eye is normally covered with a smooth layer of tears called the tear film. The tear film is composed of three layers: oil, water, and mucous. An abnormal mixture in the tear film is one of the most common causes of blurred vision, eye discomfort, and eye redness.

When the tear film layer is healthy it is smooth like the surface of a lake. The light entering the eye is properly focused. When the tear film layer is abnormal, the light entering the eye is distorted. The view becomes blurred in the same way that it is difficult to see out of a car windshield when it is covered with raindrops. Blinking helps refresh the tear film, but activities like reading or driving will reduce blinking and increase tear film irregularity.

It is intuitive that someone with dry eyes would have symptoms include stinging, pain, and redness. Other symptoms that a person might not realize are caused by this condition include sensitivity to light, and the feeling that there is a speck of dirt in the eye. It may seem strange, but dry eye can actually cause the eyes to water. This happens when the eyes become irritated and a reflex tearing response is activated. This reflex is very similar to the kind of tearing that occurs when a small particle gets into the eye.

Dysfunctional tear syndrome, affects millions of Americans. It is estimated that dry eyes affect up to 11% of people aged 30 to 60 years of age and 15-30% of those 65 years of age or older. It is a condition that can easily be missed or overlooked during routine eye care. The chance of having dry eye increases with age and can significantly impact quality of life.

Most people who have dry eyes experience mild irritation with no long-term effects. If the condition is left untreated or becomes severe however, eye damage and vision loss can occur. Severe problems with dry eye can lead to eye inflammation, corneal infection, and scarring.

Awareness of dry eye conditions has been increasing among eye care providers though not all doctors use the same tools to diagnose and treat dry eye. Recent science has provided several new treatment options. A significant portion of the diagnosis is based on symptoms. Be sure to consult your doctor if you suffer from any of the problems listed earlier. If you do suffer from dry eyes it is reasonable to start with over-the-counter artificial tears and lubricants. If symptoms persist it is advisable to consult an eye care professional who is experienced in treating dysfunctional tear syndromes.