A: Everyone experiences the symptoms from time to time: Burning, irritable eyes and/or sensation that something is actually scratching the eye. But for some 3 million American women the symptoms are chronic, according to Dr. Matthew Howie, therapeutic optometrist. These women suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome
“Tears are essential for good eye health,” Dr. Howie says. “They lubricate the eye, protect it from infections and wash away allergens. With Dry Eye Syndrome, the eyes produce too few tears or tears of such poor quality that they don’t stay on the eye. Ironically, some people with Dry Eye Syndrome may actually experience tears running down their cheeks.”
Everyone experiences reduced tear production as they age, but women are more prone to Dry Eye Syndrome than men by a 3 to 1 margin. Studies have shown that hormone therapy may increase the incidence of Dry Eye Syndrome, as can birth control pills, blood pressure medicines, antihistamines and certain anti-depressants.
“We want women to know there are several options for managing Dry Eye Syndrome, “Dr. Howie said.
Those options include lubricating drops that can minimize the dry, scratchy sensation, prescription eye drops that can actually improve tear production and inserts place under the eyelid that slowly release lubrication throughout the day.
Information provided by Dr. Matthew Howie, O.D., Total Family Eye Care, 1451 S.E. Third St., Suite 400, Grimes, 986-1234.