Dry Eye Disease

Your age, gender and past medical history may increase your risk for developing dry eyes.

Dry eye disease, also known as dry eye syndrome, occurs when your eye does not make enough tears, the tears you make are not healthy ones or both. Dry eye treatments aim to increase moisture in the eye or help tears become healthier.

Symptoms of dry eye disease

Dry eye typically affects both eyes, and symptoms may include:

  • Persistent eye dryness
  • Periods of watery eyes followed by very dry eyes
  • A burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
  • Red, irritated eyes that produce a scratchy sensation
  • Periods of blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Feeling like something is stuck in your eyes
  • A stringy discharge from the eyes
  • Eye fatigue

Risk factors for dry eyes

Certain factors can increase your risk for developing dry eye disease, including:

  • Age: Our eyes get naturally drier as part of the aging process
  • Gender: Menopausal women are at greater risk to develop dry eyes, as are pregnant women or those who take birth control pills
  • Refractive history: Including long-term contact lens use and LASIK surgery
  • Medications: Including a history of chronic eye drop use, antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants and blood pressure medications
  • Other medical conditions: Including diabetes, thyroid issues and inflammatory or rheumatologic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or Sjögren’s syndrome

Treatments for dry eye

Depending on your specific symptoms, treatment may include:

  • Artificial tears
  • Artificial tear ointment
  • Eyelid washes
  • Warm compresses
  • Restasis® prescription eye drops
  • Punctal plugs (tear duct plugs)
  • Omega 3 and 6 supplements (fish oil and flax seed)

Extreme cases of dry eye disease

For patients with severe cases of dry eye disease who do not respond to the normal treatments, Henry Ford also offers:

  1. Autologous serum eye drops: These are made from a patient’s own blood, which is drawn and separated into its component parts to extract the serum that contains many of the nutrients, vitamins and growth factors. The serum is then mixed with artificial tears and this solution is added to the surface of the eye to help the eye heal.
  2. BostonSight® PROSE lens: A prosthesis for the surface of the eye that holds a reservoir of fluid against the surface of the eye so that the cornea is always bathed in moisture. It is similar to a contact lens except that it is custom made and fit to each person’s eye.

At Henry Ford, patients come first.

The Henry Ford Department of Ophthalmology is committed to providing our patients with compassionate, personalized care. We feature the most advanced treatments in eye care and are dedicated to vision research – always staying at the forefront of innovation. A leader in Michigan, as well as one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the United States, we treat more than 55,000 patients per year at 12 locations throughout southeast Michigan. In addition, our team works closely with Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other departments, providing multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it.

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