Dry Eyes

Treat dry eye symptoms at Green Apple Eye Care

How does my eye naturally stay lubricated?

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While certainly not the most serious condition, having “dry eye” is one of the most common problems we hear from our patients. A normal functioning eye produces lubricating tears at a slow, steady rate during waking hours. Natural tear film is produced continuously and includes three components:
  1. A sticky fluid produced by conjunctival cells located inside your eyelids.
  2. A tear film (essentially water) produced by the lacrimal gland within the eyelids.
  3. An oily substance secreted by the meibomian glands in the eyelid.

With a proper balance of these three components, the tear film lubricates your eyes, nourishes your cornea, and then evaporates or is drained into the nose via the tear ducts.

What are dry eye symptoms?

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If these tears are not being produced correctly, you may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Stinging or burning
  • Scratchiness or grittiness
  • Excess tearing
  • Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
  • Eye irritation from smoke or wind
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

If a patient consistently experiences dry, burning or irritated eyes, they may be diagnosed with dry eye syndrome (dysfunctional tear syndrome).

Many patients are surprised to find that excess tearing is a symptom of dry eye syndrome. If your eyes are not producing the correct combination of tear fluids, your eyes feel irritated. When the nerves in your eye transmit this irritation, your lacrimal gland responds by over-producing tears to alleviate the irritation. The tears are produced at a faster rate than they can be drained through the tear ducts, giving the appearance that you are crying.

What causes dry eye syndrome?

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The many causes of dry eye syndrome include:

  • A natural part of aging. Tear production decreases as we age, particularly for post-menopausal women.
  • The natural chemical composition of your tears can cause them to evaporate too quickly.
  • Allergies
  • A symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis or other systemic diseases
  • Windy, dusty, dry and cold environment exposure
  • Extensive computer use can lead to insufficient blinking
  • A side effect of both prescription and over-the-counter medications can reduce tear production.
  • Nutritional Supplements

How is dry eye syndrome treated?

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Dry eye tends to be an ongoing condition that may not be curable for most people.

You can, however, manage the irritating and uncomfortable symptoms caused by dry eye with Dr. Memmen’s help. His treatment will depend on the underlying cause.

The most common dry eye treatments include:

  • Artificial Tears: an easy to apply, over the counter, lubricating eye drop that may help alleviate any dry, scratchy feeling.
  • Topical Steroids: a short-term solution to manage severe dry eye cases that can then be maintained with other treatments.
  • Restasis: an easy-to-apply prescription eye drop that decreases inflammation in tear glands, allowing your body to produce more tears.

Be cautious when buying over-the-counter eye drops. Call Green Apple Eye Care’s Green Bay or Appleton office to verify that the drops will, in fact, help long term and not just cover up a more serious underlying condition.

If your dry eye condition is a result of medication, you have to decide, with your doctor, if stopping or switching the medication is an option.