Millions of people in the United States live with the irritating effects of dry eye, a common and often chronic ocular condition that occurs when insufficient tear quantity or quality leaves the surface of your eyes inadequately lubricated and uncomfortably dry.
A comprehensive dry eye treatment plan — which may include prescription eye drops, helpful behavioral changes, avoiding dry eye triggers, and more — doesn’t just provide much-needed relief; it also aims to prevent more serious complications.
At five Elite Eye Care offices located across New York City’s Bronx and Brooklyn boroughs, experienced optometrist Dr. Markiel Yakubov and our skilled team offer a full scope of dry eye services, ranging from diagnosis and treatment to complication prevention. Here’s what you should know.
Understanding dry eye
About 16 million Americans have dry eye syndrome, an ongoing ocular health problem that develops when the surface of your eyes isn’t properly lubricated and nourished because of insufficient tear production or low-quality tears:
Reduced tear production
You can develop dry eye when the glands in and around your eyelids don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes wet. While normal age-related hormonal changes, some medications, and certain health conditions can cause diminished tear production, excessive screen time and living in a dry or windy environment can exacerbate the problem.
Inadequate tear quality
Normal tears have three layers: oil, water, and mucus. Each of these substances plays a key role in nourishing and protecting the surface of your eyes. Dry eye can develop when deficiencies or imbalances within these layers cause your tears to spread across your eye surface unevenly or evaporate from the surface too quickly.
Most people can attain effective, long-lasting relief from irritating dry eye symptoms with a proper diagnosis followed by a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan. Many people find the greatest degree of relief through a combination of therapies and lifestyle changes.
Dry eye complications
Without treatment, chronic dry eye can damage the surface of your eye and cause vision problems. Potential complications of untreated or poorly managed dry eye include:
Inflammation and infection
Your tears help protect the surface of your eyes from inflammation and infection. Untreated dry eye makes you more susceptible to frequent eye infections, including conjunctivitis (pink eye). It also leaves you more vulnerable to keratitis or inflammation of the cornea. If keratitis damages or scars your deeper corneal layers, it can cause permanent vision loss.
Eye surface damage
Severe dry eye can be so abrasive to the corneal surface that it causes irreversible damage that leads to vision loss. You may develop a corneal ulcer or an open sore in your eye’s transparent, protective outer surface. If a corneal ulcer goes untreated, it can spread into and damage your inner eyeball structures, leading to partial or total blindness in the affected eye.
Extreme eye sensitivity
Untreated dry eye can also lead to acute light sensitivity or eye discomfort in bright light (photophobia). This can make it difficult to keep your eyes open in front of a computer screen or outdoors on a sunny day.
Diminished quality of life
Ongoing dry eye can give rise to persistently blurry vision that makes it difficult to read or drive. Over time, blurry vision may worsen or lead to double vision, making routine daily tasks all but impossible.
Getting relief from dry eye
Depending on its exact cause, dry eye can often be greatly improved with prescription eye drops that either supplement or stimulate your natural tear production. Dr. Yakubov may also recommend:
- Soothing anti-inflammatory eye drops
- Dissolving punctal plugs to block tear drainage
- Having regular comprehensive eye examinations
- Lifestyle, dietary, and environmental changes
- Eyelid massages and warm compresses
To learn more about dry eye or schedule your next comprehensive eye exam at Elite Eye Care, call or click online to book an appointment at your nearest New York City location today — we have one office in Brooklyn and four offices throughout the Bronx.