Dry Eye FAQ

What is dry eye?

Tears are essential to maintaining good eye health and vision.

Dry eye occurs when there is a lack in the quantity or quality of tears to lubricate your eyes. This lack of high-quality tears can cause dry spots on the surface of the eye, resulting in irritation and blurred vision.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?

  • Eyes that are:
    • Burning
    • Red
    • Watering
    • Itching
    • Stinging
  • Tears that feel sticky
  • Sandy or gritty foreign object sensation
  • "Tired" eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Trouble focusing at the end of the day

Are there different types of dry eye?

Yes! There are two families of dry eye – “Aqueous Deficiency” or “Evaporative.”

Dry Eye DiagramAqueous Deficiency is when the eye produces an insufficient number of tears. The aqueous layer is produced by the lacrimal gland. If the lacrimal gland is not producing enough aqueous, the eye will become dry.

Evaporative dry eye occurs due to a deficient tear film layer. This deficiency causes an increase in tear evaporation. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) is the most common cause of evaporative dry eye.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)

MGD is primarily caused by inflammation of the eyelids, commonly known as “blepharitis.” This inflammation obstructs the meibomian glands and causes oily meibum in the glands to harden, resulting in a poor lipid (oil) layer of the tear film. Poor secretions of oil into the tear film cause increased tear evaporation.

What causes dry eye?

An imbalanced tear film layer is the most common cause of dry eye.

Factors that can contribute to this imbalance include:

  • Dry environment
  • Infrequent blinking (often associated with prolonged screen time)
  • Existing medical conditions (such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disorders)
  • Allergies
  • Aging
  • Taking certain medications
  • History of laser eye surgery
  • Damage to tear glands from inflammation or radiation

How is dry eye diagnosed?

If you believe you have dry eye, the first step is to book a dry eye consultation. During this appointment, your optometrist will be able to evaluate your individual dry eye needs and determine if further testing is necessary.

For more information on diagnosing dry eye, click here.

How is dry eye treated?

Dry eye treatment varies from over-the-counter eye drops to light therapy sessions – it all depends on the type and severity of dry eye.

Your optometrist is your best resource for determining what treatment options are best suited for your dry eyes.

For more information on dry eye treatment options, click here.

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