Column: Don’t be caught without tears


Commentary by Dr. Hannah Wilson

Cooler weather is upon us, and with the chilly temperatures often comes an increase in dry eye.

Dry eye syndrome is a common, chronic condition that results when a person either produces inadequate tears or the tears that they do produce are of poor quality. Tears are essential for lubricating the eyes and keeping the front surface of the eyes healthy. Tears also help maintain the interface that is necessary for clear vision.

Without the proper balance of tear production and tear drainage, a number of uncomfortable ocular symptoms can arise. These include grittiness, irritation, burning, blurred or fluctuating vision, and excess watering, amongst others. Certain factors make an individual more at risk for dry eye syndrome. Age, hormonal changes, underlying systemic conditions, particular medications and environmental influences, all can cause dry eye to develop. With decreased blink rates because of widespread use of digital devices, more people are experiencing dry eye today than ever before.

Dry eye syndrome can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination, with technology focused on evaluating the quantity and quality of an individual’s tears. Once the cause and severity of the condition is determined, a custom treatment plan can be created to help alleviate symptoms. This may include tear or nutritional supplementation, management of eyelid inflammation, or prescription eye medications.

An estimated 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with dry eye syndrome, and there are undoubtedly even more individuals who suffer from symptoms but have not sought medical treatment. Don’t wait for dry eye discomfort to develop. Schedule an appointment with your eye care provider today to detect dry eye before it becomes debilitating.