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What Causes Dry Eye?

The Science Behind Dry Eye and the Solutions Ahead

That irritating sensation when it feels like there’s something in your eye. You know what I’m talking about. And you’re looking and poking and rubbing…but can’t find the irritant. One of life’s little annoyances, for sure, but it can also signal something more—like dry eye.

National Eye Institute reports that more than 100 million people worldwide (30 million in the U.S.) suffer from dry eye.

San Jose enjoys an amazingly temperate climate with sunshine most of the year. Because…San Jose is awesome. But, because it is also situated inland and is surrounded on three sides by mountains, the region is more sheltered from rain, giving it a semi-arid (dry) feel.

Back to the above-mentioned annoyance. It could be allergies and there are easy solutions for that. But if it’s chronic dry eye, there is likely more involved. So, let’s explore symptoms, causes and solutions.

Dry eye symptoms may include:

  • Burning, itching
  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive dryness
  • Fatigue
  • Red eyes
  • Grittiness or feeling of something in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes (strange but true)

Dry eye science: If you have dry eye, it is because the quantity and/or quality of your tears fails to keep the surface of your eye adequately lubricated. Chronic dry eye abounds in San Jose, where the climate lacks moisture. Because of this phenomenon, dry eye syndrome can actually cause watery eyes, because excessive dryness can overstimulate the production of tears. Chronic dry eye, left untreated, can lead to anything from minor irritation to the inability to wear contact lenses and even an increased risk of corneal inflammation and eye infections.

Other Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye symptoms are also common among people who do a lot of near work (emailing, texting, working, gaming) on computers and smartphones for prolonged periods of time. Some contact lens wearers also complain of dry eye symptoms and even environmental factors such as sitting in an air-conditioned room for too long, and weather conditions including excessive sun, wind, hot dry air or high altitude can cause rapid evaporation of the eye’s tear film (aka dry eye).

A few medical conditions, certain eye diseases and autoimmune disorders are associated with dry eye. As is advancing age. Women are more likely to develop dry eye due to hormonal changes (that impact tear production) linked to menstruation, pregnancy or menopause. Some medications such as certain antidepressants, antihistamines, beta-blockers and diuretics can contribute to dry eyes, too.

That’s a lot of causes but don’t cry! We can help.

Dry Eye Relief

San Jose dry eye specialists at Eye Medical Clinic will perform diagnostics, including ocular allergy testing, to determine the source of your dry eye symptoms. Thorough testing leads to the best course of treatment and relief customized to your individual needs and issues.

We offer scleral lenses—a hard contact, slightly larger than a typical contact lens—that holds a supply of tears next to the cornea, reducing uncomfortable dry eye symptoms while also improving visual acuity.

Another consideration for more chronic dry eye is punctal plugs; these are tiny devices gently inserted into your eyelids to slow the drainage of tears away from your eyes. They bring back the moisture, restoring balance to your tear film.

Prokera/Bio-D is a high-science contact lens made with amniotic membranes with unique anti-microbial properties. One of our highly skilled specialists will gently place the amniotic membrane onto your eye and cover it with a clear, soft, disposable contact lens to hold the amniotic tissue in place. After a few days, the membrane fully dissolves and the contact is removed. The cornea absorbs the “watery” nutrients with the goal of improving your dry eye symptoms.

Most insurance plans cover the dry eye procedures we offer at Eye Medical Clinic so don’t wait to find relief. Schedule a dry eye consultation today.

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