A: Everyone experiences the symptoms from time to time: burning, irritable eyes and/or the sensation that something is actually scratching the eye. But for some three million American women the symptoms are chronic, according to Dr. Matthew Howie. 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 hormone therapy may increase the incidence of Dry Eye Syndrome, as can birth control pills, blood pressure medicines, antihistamines and certain anti-depressants, “explains Dr. Howie.
Dr. Howie says some options for treating Dry Eye Syndrome include lubricating drops that can minimize the dry, scratchy sensation and prescription eye drops that can actually improve tear production.
“Through a procedure called lacrimal occlusion, we can also temporarily or permanently close the tear ducts to prevent tears from draining away too quickly,” Dr. Howie says.