Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dry Eye 101

" My eyes hurt!"
 "My eyes feel like they're burning up!"
 "It seems like my eyes are always red."
 "When I'm reading at night or working on the computer my eyes get really tired. My vision starts to get blurry."
 "I tear all the time. My friends always want to know what's wrong."
 "It feels like there's something in my eye all the time."

 And of course, the obvious, "my eyes are dry!"

 These are the kinds of things that patients say when they come to the eye doctor and have a problem with dry eye. Sometimes it's hard for your eye doctor or the staff in the office to figure out that what you are really complaining about is that your eyes are dry. This really isn't as much of a problem Skyvision because we have become experts at treating dry!  In fact, Dr. White lectures all over the country, teaching other eye doctors how to diagnose and treat dry eye.

 Your tears are actually an emulsion, a complex mixture of three different parts: salt water, mucin, and oil. Tears are actually like the vinaigrette you put on your salad. Your tears work best when the three parts are mixed just right, just like salad dressing! You need just enough of the three parts, and the proportions of the ingredients have to be just right, too.

 In general there are two types of tear problems that can lead to the symptoms of dry eye. We call them "quantity" and "quality". If the microscopic glands in your eyes are not producing enough tears, if your tear "quantity" is too low, you can have any of the symptoms above caused by dryness. This is actually pretty easy to understand -- not enough tears equals a dry eye.

 The "quality" part of dry eye is a little more difficult to get a handle on. If you have too little of any of the components that make up your tears, your tears just may not work well enough. In addition, even if you have the right amount of each component, if any of the three parts (mucin, salt water, and oil) is not working well enough, the entire mix may be ineffective. In other words, you may have plenty of tears, but they may just do not work well enough. Kind of like trying to put out a fire with kerosene-- its wet, but it won't put out the fire. Sometimes it even makes the fire worse. You, too, have a dry eye.

 So if any of the statements at the top sound like you, perhaps it's time to come visit us at Skyvision Centers. We are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of all kinds of dry eye!

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