What causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
DES has many causes, which explains why millions are affected. The most common causes include:
- THE AGING PROCESS Tear flow normally decreases with age. In fact, approximately 75% of individuals over age 65 suffer from DES symptoms.
- CONTACT LENS WEAR Contact lens wear can dramatically increase tear evaporation, causing discomfort, infection, and/or increased protein deposits. Research shows that DES is the leading cause of contact lens intolerance.
- HORMONAL CHANGES IN WOMEN Various hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, oral contraceptives and menopause can contribute to DES.
- ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS People who are exposed to smoke, air pollution, high altitude, sunny, windy, cold or dry air conditions are at risk for DES.
- SIDE EFFECTS OF DISEASE/MEDICATIONS There are several diseases and medications which can lower your ability to produce tears. Be sure to give your doctor a complete medical history.
- SJOGREN’S SYNDROME An immune system disorder characterized by inflammation and dryness of the mouth, eyes and other mucous membranes. This disorder damages the lacrimal glands and affects tear production.
- LASER VISION CORRECTIVE SURGERIES Following various ophthalmic surgical procedures, patients may develop DES. Many patient have benefited from temporary punctual occlusion following such procedures.
What treatments are available?
Depending on the intensity of the condition, treatment may be as simple as using artificial tears a few times a day. In more persistent cases, however, a simple non-surgical procedure is available that provides long-term relief of DES through the use of tiny plugs called “punctal occluders.”