Those Frustrating Tears May Indicate Dry Eye Disease
If you occasionally experience a gritty sensation, burning, and excessively watery eyes, you’re not alone. These frustrating symptoms are commonplace in this day and age. They often occur because we spend hours at a time staring at a computer screen or other digital device. Even if the entertainment is a good book, when we go without blinking often, our eyes will become dry. This is often referred to as digital eye strain. However, when the eyes burn, sting, and tear frequently, there may be more going on than you think.
The Nature of Tears
Tears are meant to lubricate the ocular surface. The fluid that makes up our tears is produced in a gland inside the eye. It is then spread over the eye when we blink. This is why we need to blink often. Tears also leave the eye through fluid evaporation and also by exiting through tiny drainage tubes at the lower part of the eye. Chronic or frequent dryness, called dry eye syndrome, may occur if the tear film evaporates too quickly, if tear production is low, or for another reason. Medical treatment is necessary to ensure proper eye function and comfort and to prevent permanent damage to the cornea.
Dry Eye Syndrome can Affect Quality of Life
Chances are, if you are diagnosed with dry eye syndrome, you will feel relieved. A proper diagnosis provides the means to an end. Actress Jennifer Aniston had reported that she had been virtually addicted to her eye drops for years, not knowing she had dry eye disease. Once diagnosed, she received the care and management strategies she needed to get through the day more comfortably. Statistics suggest that approximately one-third of adults have dry eye syndrome. Additionally, the symptoms of dry eye have been reported to be as detrimental as symptoms of angina (chest pain).
Discerning Dry Eye from Digital Eye Strain
How can you know if your frustrating symptoms are dry eye disease and not just an indicator that you need to take a break from all screens for a bit? Often, we can tell by self-reported symptoms. Dry eye disease can be so severe that it disrupts productivity and makes it difficult to get through the day comfortably.
Testing is also a vital aspect of diagnosing dry eye disease. Some of the measurements that an eye doctor observes include the salt-to-water ratio of tears (tear-film osmolarity), how much fluid the glands are producing (Schirmer tear test), and how fast tears evaporate (tear breakup test). Depending on the severity of symptoms, a corneal fluorescein stain may be performed to examine the cornea for signs of damage.
Get the answers you need about dry eye. Call our Pasadena, TX office at 713.473.5715.