Dry eye disease is a common and often chronic condition that can significantly impact a person's quality of life. It occurs when your eyes fail to produce enough tears, or if the tears that you do produce are of poor quality. The result is discomfort, visual disturbance, and potential damage to the front surface of the eye.
Identifying dry eye disease can be tricky because the symptoms can be similar to other eye conditions. However, there are a few telltale signs.
The most common symptoms of dry eye include a stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in your eyes. You may also experience stringy mucus in or around your eyes, sensitivity to light, red eyes, a sensation of having something in your eyes, difficulty wearing contact lenses, blurred vision or eye fatigue.
It's also worth noting that symptoms can be paradoxically watery eyes. This is because dryness on the eye's surface may over-stimulate production of the watery component of your tears as a protective mechanism.
Diagnosing dry eye disease involves a comprehensive examination of your eyes and your medical history. Your optometrist will also ask about your symptoms, lifestyle, and any general health problems that could be contributing to your dry eyes.
There are several tests and procedures for diagnosing dry eye. The most common is the tear break-up time test, which measures the time it takes for your tears to evaporate. Other tests include the Schirmer test, which measures tear production.
In addition to these tests, your eye doctor may use a slit lamp to examine your cornea and eyelids. They may also check for any abnormalities that could be causing your dry eyes.
When diagnosed with dry eye disease, your optometrist will create a tailored treatment plan to address your specific needs. This plan may involve a combination of approaches, such as prescribing lubrication eye drops, recommending lifestyle changes to reduce environmental triggers, or even suggesting specialty contact lenses. The goal is to alleviate symptoms, improve eye comfort, and prevent further damage to the ocular surface.
Regular follow-up appointments will allow your optometrist to adjust the treatment plan as needed, ensuring that your eye condition is effectively manages for long-term health and comfort.
Living with dry eye can be challenging, but it's not insurmountable. Once you know what's causing your symptoms, there are treatments and strategies that can help manage your dry eye and improve your quality of life.
If you're experiencing dry eye symptoms, consult with our optometrist at Chroma Optics at our office in Burlington, Vermont. We provide the best care for all of your vision needs. Call (802) 497-1676 to schedule an appointment today.