When Dry Eye is the Source of Excessive Tears
- Posted on: Mar 15 2019
In our St. Louis office, we treat a variety of tearing problems. When the eyes are frequently watery and irritated, one may believe that their computer screen or smart phone is to blame. Some people assume that their use of digital devices will always create the minor frustration they live with. Some believe that their eyes are dry simply due to aging. It is our job as eye care specialists to determine where tear production has gone awry and to then develop a plan to resolve discomfort.
Tears are Complex
Tears are not a thing we tend to spend much time thinking about. Typically, we only think about them when we cry or when the eyes water excessively. Tears are a vital aspect of eye health. Produced in a gland in the eye, the fluid made up of water, oil, and mucus coats the surface of the eye as we blink. Tears then evaporate and otherwise drain from the eye through tiny tubes.
When the eyes are frequently dry, we look at tears as a way to understand that cause of symptoms. It’s not as simple as “there aren’t enough tears.” Sometimes the eye produces sufficient fluid but the ratio of substances in tears is imbalanced, causing tears to evaporate faster than they should.
Tests to Diagnose Dry Eye Syndrome
Chronic dryness may be referred to as dry eye syndrome, a type of tearing problem that affects approximately one-third of adults. Studies have indicated that many people do not know they have dry eye syndrome. Actress Jennifer Aniston was one of them for years before she received help. Aniston was an admitted eyedrop addict before being diagnosed with dry eye syndrome. After her diagnosis, she regained the comfort and quality of life. According to one study, people with dry eye syndrome are negatively affected to the same degree as people who experience the sharp chest pain of angina. Dry eyes can inhibit productivity and presence in life, but the condition can be treated once appropriately identified.
How do we identify dry eye syndrome? With specific tests. Symptom assessment is integral to the process and is often accompanied by techniques that measure the quantity and quality of tears. For example, a Schirmer tear test indicates the level of tear production in each eye. A tear breakup test tells us how quickly tears are evaporating, and tear-film osmolarity screening measures how much salt is in tear fluid compared to water. Testing for dry eyes provides us the basis we need to restore comfort as quickly as possible.
Do you need to know more about dry eye treatment? Call our St. Louis office at 314-567-3567.
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