Dry eye syndrome affects nearly five million Americans. It’s a curious condition, since your eyes may indeed be dry after crying, but you may also have very wet eyes if the chemical balance of your tears is disturbed. The eye care professionals at the Witlin Center for Advanced Eye Care, serving East Brunswick, Toms River, and Morristown, New Jersey, can examine, diagnose, and help you manage your dry eye condition. Call or click to make an appointment today.
Tears are a normal part of your eye’s maintenance system, keeping eyes comfortable and healthy. Tears are made of three layers, however, and the balance of these components is critical to the proper function of the tear system. Dry eye syndrome occurs when there isn’t adequate tear coverage, but it may also occur when the balance of tear components fails.
The outer layer is oily, and it provides a smooth gliding surface between eye and eyelid, while simultaneously offering a barrier against evaporation of the lower layers. The middle layer is the largest component of tears, a watery solution that keeps the eye clean and flushes away dirt and debris.
The inner layer of your tears is a mucus film that permits the watery layer to stick to the eye. Each tear component is made in a different place in the eye and usually, in the right balance that responds to changing conditions.
Typical symptoms of dry eye give the condition its name. Your eyes will feel dry, with a gritting feeling as though there’s something in your eye. This may be accompanied by irritation and visible redness.
You may also experience an excess of tears, often because of overproduction of the middle layer of tears. This salty layer can overwhelm the other layers and upset the normal function of these layers. Even though your eyes will be very wet in this case, you’re still suffering from dry eye.
The reduced blinking that often accompanies the use of computer, smartphone, and tablet monitors may give rise to dry eye, as do some diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Environmental conditions such as smoke, dust, and wind can cause dry eye as well. If you use contact lenses for extended periods or you’re taking certain medications, you may also experience dry eye.
Changing your exposure to irritating conditions or behaviors may be all you need, but in more advanced cases, the doctors at the Witlin Center for Advanced Eye Care often turn to: