What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears help keep your eyes comfortable and your vision optimal. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have poor quality tears. Three main layers make up the tear film:

The inner most layer is made up of mucin (mucus) and is the thinnest layer, produced by the cells in the conjunctiva. The mucus helps the next layer, the watery layer, to spread evenly over the eye.

The middle layer, the aqueous layer, is the largest and thickest. This layer is produced by the lacrimal glands which are under the upper lids. This layer functions to keep the eye moist and comfortable, as well as to flush out any debris, dust and foreign particles that may get into the eyes. Defects in this layer are the most common cause of dry eye syndrome, also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS).

The outer most layer is a very thin layer of lipids (oils or fats). This lipid layer is produced by the meibomian glands and the glands of Zeis (oil glands in eye lids). The main function of this oily layer is to help decrease evaporation of the watery layer beneath it.

Dry eyes can be caused by an improper balance of tear production and drainage.

What causes dry eyes?

The development of dry eyes can have many causes. They include:

  • Age - dry eye is part of the natural aging process. Most people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.
  • Gender - women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and menopause.
  • Medications - certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce the amount of tears produced in the eyes.
  • Medical Conditions - people with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have dry eyes. 
  • Environmental Conditions - exposure to smoke, wind, drafts from heating/air conditioning vents, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms. You will also notice increased discomfort during periods of computer use and reading, when we fail to blink regularly, and evaporation of tears increases.

Treatments for dry eyes aim to restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye to minimize dryness and related discomfort and to maintain eye health.

If you respond positively to two or more symptoms in the survey, you may have Dry Eye Syndrome. Please mention this to the Doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

If you would like, you can download and fill out the dry eye questionnaire and bring it with you to the office.

​​LEC Dry-Eye_SPEED-Questionnaire.pdf

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a common disorder of the tear film, affecting a significant percentage of the population, especially those older than 40 years of age. The estimated number of people affected ranges from 25-30 million in the United States. ​

Lawrenceville Eye Care, LLC

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Dry Eye Survey