Dry eye is one of the most common ocular conditions today. Dry eye problems arise when a person does not have enough tears, or the correct composition of tears, to properly lubricate the eye. It affects millions of people and while most suffer from mild symptoms that often disappear after a short time, the condition can lead to permanent vision problems. As a result, severe, long-lasting symptoms should be addressed immediately.
If your eyes feel dry, irritated, or scratchy on a regular basis, you most likely have dry eye problems. Determining the exact causes of your dry eye and the best solution for the condition, however, can be much more complex. To accomplish these goals, your doctor has several tools at his or her disposal.
Dry eyes result from systemic diseases (Sjogrens, RA, lupus, Stevens Johnson, thyroid disease, Bell's palsy), eye conditions (meibomian gland disease, blepharitis, ocular rosacea, corneal dystrophies), elective surgeries (LASIK, PRK, blepharoplasty), eyelid conditions (lagophthalmos, ptosis) medically necessary surgeries, drug side effects (antihistamines, diuretics, beta blockers), eye injuries and burns, chemotherapy and radiation, aging, menopause, or any others of the many causes of dry eye.
Allergic Eye Disease (Conjunctivitis)
Allergic eye disease, or allergic conjunctivitis, makes the eyes feel itchy, red, watery and light-sensitive and can cause swelling of the eyelids. The allergy may be seasonal, often occurring alongside hay fever, or it may occur throughout the year, known as perennial, as a result of exposure to allergens such as dust mites, mold or animal dander. Both are common, especially for patients with family histories of asthma, eczema or rhinitis. People can also develop allergic eye disease from wearing hard or soft contact lenses, as a complication of atopic eczema, or for other reasons. Patients with this condition may also suffer from dry eyes and blepharitis.
Allergic eye disease is uncomfortable but it rarely causes injury. Treatment varies depending on the cause, history and symptoms, and may include topical or oral antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers or topical corticosteroids. Cold compresses may also relieve discomfort.