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Your eyes should naturally be covered in tears all the time, not just when you are watching the latest sad movie. Tears provide moisture and lubrication to your eyes and help to keep them feeling comfortable. All tears are a mix of water, mucus, oils and special antibodies and proteins that help to keep your eyes free of infection. Tears come from special glands around your eyes, and when the tear system isn't working properly, dry eye is often the result.
Not every case of dry eye feels the same, but most patients have a similar set of symptoms. Some of the most common are:
At times, dry eyes can cause the opposite reaction when your eyes make too many tears to make up for the dryness. Your body will send a flood of tears through your tear ducts, causing your eyes to water as if you're crying. These tears are mostly made of water, though, and don't do your eyes much good.
Your environment can be one of the simplest causes to discover. If you sit in front of a fan, or have an air conditioning duct blowing toward you, this can dry out your eyes rapidly. The answer is not always that simple, though. Other causes include aging, the side effects of certain drugs such as antihistamines, diseases that block your eyes' ability to make tears and even physical problems that don't allow your eyes to close all the way.
At Eye Care of Virginia, our optometrist has many options when it comes to treating dry eye syndrome. The most common solution is artificial tears, in both drop and ointment form. Each person's body chemistry works differently, so you may have to try more than one variety to find the one that works best for you.
If your eyes are drying out too fast, tear duct plugs might be the solution. Our doctor will temporarily plug the punctum, the duct that drains tears from the eye. This plug is designed to dissolve over time, but will indicate whether a more permanent plug would be a good solution.
If the oil glands in your eyes are blocked, we may use Lipiflow, a medical device that uses pressure and heat to unblock the clogged gland.
Patients with chronic dry eye often respond well to cyclosporin, a prescription eye drop that causes an increase in tear production.
If you are suffering from dry eyes, our optometrist, Dr. Miles Press, can help. We have offices in both Culpeper and King George, VA, for your convenience. Contact us at our Culpeper office at (540) 825-3937, or our office in King George at (540) 663-3937 to make an appointment.