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Definition of Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition in which the lacrimal (tear) glands do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly, causing the eye to become dry and irritated. Dry eye syndrome has numerous causes, the most common of which are aging, medication side effects, and extended exposure to a dry or dusty environment.
People who work in occupations that require close focus, such as with computers or assembly-line tasks, also may develop dry eyes as a result of insufficient blinking. Dry eyes also may accompany autoimmune conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (sle), rheumatoid arthritis, and sjögren’s syndrome. Cigarette smoking exacerbates dry eye syndrome.
The symptoms of dry eye syndrome include redness, itching, and the sensation of grit in the eyes. The diagnostic path targets identifying the underlying cause when possible. Antihistamine medications, antihypertensive medications, antidepressant medications, and medications to treat parkinson’s disease commonly cause dry eyes as a side effect; sometimes switching to a different medication reduces eye dryness and irritation.
Treatment is frequent use of artificial tears or restasis drops and remedying any identifiable cause when possible. The ophthalmologist may treat persistent dry eye syndrome with lacrimal plugs (also called punctal plugs), tiny segments of acrylic that become soft and gelatinous when inserted into the lacrimal ducts.
These plugs slow the drainage of tears from the eye. Some recent studies suggest that increasing dietary intake of essential fatty acids, notably linoleic and gammalinolenic acids, improves the eye’s ability to produce tears.
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