Facts About Dry Eye
Dry eye is a term used to describe a group of conditions that result from inadequate wetting and lubrication of the eye. While millions of people worldwide experience dry eye, it is not always easy to diagnose and can easily be mistaken for other conditions such as infections and allergies. Chronic Dry Eye is a medical condition that can result from the eyes' reduced ability to produce tears due to inflammation.
- It has been estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the U.S. population suffers from dry eye. Nearly six million women and three million men in the U.S. have moderate or severe symptoms of the condition. Scientists estimate that an additional 20 to 30 million people in this country have mild cases of dry eye.
- It is estimated that the rate of diagnosis of dry eye is low – at approximately five percent. Dry eye can be difficult to diagnose because there are so many possible causes and contributors. Also, not everyone experiences or describes symptoms in the same way.
- Anyone can experience dry eye, but the condition is more common in females than in males. According to a study by scientists from Schepens Eye Research Institute (SERI) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, nearly 3.2 million American women age 50 and older suffer from dry eye.
- The occurrence of dry eye increases with age. SERI reports that nearly 75 percent of people over age 65 will experience dry eye syndrome,1 and the condition occurs most often in older women after menopause.
- Dry eye results from abnormal or insufficient tears. This leads to reduced tear clearance, increased osmolarity, ocular surface irritation and ultimately inflammation. Once inflammation begins, damage can occur to ocular structures. This perpetuates and intensifies a cycle of signs, symptoms and further inflammation.
- Factors that can contribute to dry eye include smoke, pollution, extreme heat or cold, windy environments, concentrated near work such as reading or staring at a computer screen, hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s Syndrome, Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis, and certain types of medications including antihistamines, anti-depressants and hormone replacement.
- Clinical signs of dry eye include fast tear film break-up time, corneal surface damage, corneal and conjunctival staining, low tear meniscus, tear debris, hyperemia, increased cytokines and abnormal tear osmolarity.
- Symptoms of dry eye include dryness, scratchiness, burning or stinging, Foreign Body Sensation (FBS), grittiness, fluctuating blurring of vision, tired eyes, general discomfort, sensitivity to light, contact lens intolerance and tear debris.
- It is important that patients see an eye care professional to determine whether or not they have dry eye and to determine the appropriate therapy for the condition. Initially we might recommend vitamin supplements such as EZ-TEARS to support the production of tears. We may also recommend an artificial tear or RESTASIS.
- SYSTANE® ULTRA Lubricant Eye Drops is the first artificial tear clinically proven to reduce both signs and symptoms of dry eye and maintain quality vision.
- RESTASIS is the only prescription eye drop to help increase tear production, in cases where it may be reduced by inflammation due to Chronic Dry Eye. RESTASIS is use one drop, twice a day.