Dry Eye Syndrome
Tear production normally decreases as we age. Although dry eye can occur in both men and women at any age, women are most often affected. This is especially true after menopause. Dry eye can also be associated with arthritis and accompanied by a dry mouth. People with dry eyes, dry mouth and arthritis are said to have Sjogren’s syndrome.
A wide variety of common medications, prescription and over-the-counter can cause dry eye by reducing tear secretion. Be sure to tell your ophthalmologist the names of all the medications you are taking, especially if you are using:
- Medications for nerves
- Sleeping pills
- Pain relievers
Since these medications are often necessary, the dry eye condition may have to be tolerated or treated with artificial tears. People with dry eye are often more prone to the toxic side effects of eye medications, including artificial tears. For example, the preservatives in certain eye drops and artificial tear preparations can irritate the eye. Special preservative-free artificial tears may be required.
The usual symptoms include:
- Stinging or burning eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Excess tearing
- Eye irritation from smoke or wind
- Difficulty wearing contact lens
Excess tearing from dry eye sounds illogical, but if the tears responsible for maintenance lubrication do not keep the eye wet enough, the eye becomes irritated. When the eye is irritated, the lacrimal gland produces a large volume of tears which overwhelms the tear drainage system. These excess tears then overflow from your eye.