What is dry eye or aqueous tear deficiency?
Dry eye, or aqueous tear deficiency, occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly or when the tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly. In addition to being uncomfortable, dry eye can damage eye tissue, scar the cornea and impair vision. Permanent loss of vision from dry eye is uncommon.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
- Irritated, scratchy, dry, uncomfortable or red eyes
- Burning sensation
- Feeling of something foreign in your eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Excessive eye irritation from smoke or wind
- Excess tearing
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
- Blurred vision
Excess tearing from dry eye may sound illogical, but it can be understood as the eye’s response to discomfort. If the tears responsible for maintaining lubrication do not keep the eye wet enough, the eye becomes irritated. Eye irritation prompts the gland that makes tears to release a large volume of tears, overwhelming the tear drainage system. These excess tears then overflow from your eye.
Who gets dry eye?
Older people frequently experience dryness of the eyes, but dry eye can occur at any age. Nearly five million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye. Of these, more than three million are women and more than one and a half million are men. Tens of millions more have less severe symptoms. Dry eye is more common after menopause. Women who experience menopause prematurely are more likely to have eye surface damage from dry eye.
How is dry eye diagnosed?
Regular eye exams can detect dry eye early before symptoms are noticeable.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of dry eye, contact us to schedule an eye exam.