Most of us experience dry, irritated eyes every now and then. The environment can cause our tear film to evaporate too quickly. Getting engrossed in a good novel or social media can cause us to neglect to blink, resulting in temporary redness and grittiness, too. These temporary bouts of dry eye can be frustrating, but they don’t degrade the quality of life for very long. Dry eye syndrome is another story. When eyes are chronically dry, it may not be long until the quality of life diminishes.
It has been estimated that dry eye syndrome affects approximately one-third of all adults. The condition does not stem from the use of a digital device or even dry air. Dry eye syndrome is related to the tears themselves. The ongoing lack of tears can bring a person to rely on eye drops far more heavily than is healthy. Actress Jennifer Aniston confessed that, until her eyes were properly diagnosed, she couldn’t get through the day without eyedrops nearby at all times.
Tears are necessary for the eyes to function properly. The tear film is made up of water and also oil and mucus. Every aspect of the tear film is intended to keep the ocular surface moist; water lubricates, and oil and mucus prevent rapid evaporation. When dry eye develops, we look at the value of the tear film and overall production.
How We Test for Dry Eyes
Symptom assessment can provide a good amount of information to help us diagnose dry eyes. More than identifying the problem, though, we want to understand where the tear film is lacking. Tests like the Schirmer eye test show us how much fluid is being produced by the glands in the eye. A tear breakup test shows us how quickly tears are evaporating from the ocular surface, and a tear osmolarity test helps us measure the content of the tear film, namely water to salt ratio. Depending on the severity of symptoms and how long they have existed, an additional test may be performed to observe the cornea. Excessive, ongoing dry eye can cause damage to this structure of the eye.
Your Mililani eye doctor can help you understand symptoms like grittiness and burning. To learn more about dry eye and how to treat it, call 808.625.5577.