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Dr. Tran answers common questions about Dry Eye Syndrome

What is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is the condition where there is insufficient tear production or poor tear quality, which can no longer support the integral function of the cornea.  The cause may be either or a combination of: infrequent blinking (due to computer usage), contact lens wear, advanced age, hormonal change (pregnancy, menopause), infection (eye inflammation), auto-immune disease (Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), lid defect (injury, palsy), or medication (anti-histamine, anti-depressant).  

Is it true that dry eye syndrome seems to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
Yes, the air is typically drier in the winter than any other time in the year. Besides, the cold winter air irritates the eyes and makes you feel uncomfortable.  Also, indoor heated air destroys the tiny moisture droplets in the air thus causing a drier environment.

What are self-care treatments for dry eye syndrome?
Most temporary mild, dry eye symptoms are quickly relieved by the application of eye lubricants. Preservative-free artificial tear solutions are recommended because many people have allergic reaction to the preservatives present in the solution. Other self-treatments include:  - remembering to blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, - increasing the humidity level of the ambient air at work and at home, - wearing glasses outdoors with wrap around design to minimize exposure to dry winds and dust, - taking omega-3 fatty acid supplement to increase tear quality and production.
If, despite the above measures, you still have prolonged symptoms such as redness, stinging sensation, stringy discharge, fluctuating vision, or unexplained episodes of excessive tearing, you should consult our eye doctor in Huntington Beach, CA for further diagnosis and treatment.
It sounds contradictory that tearing may be a symptom of dry eyes.
Excessive tearing itself has many causes. However, one cause of excessive tearing is that dryness activates the tear reflex system which subsequently causes a poorly regulated over-production of tears. Thus, the treatment of dry eyes will normalize the tear production. 

Are there other treatments for dry eye syndrome?
Advanced treatments of dry eyes include the application of silicone plugs in the tear drainage ducts to prevent loss of tears from the eyes.  Anti-inflammatory eye drops are also used to restore tear production.  Antibiotics may be used to treat lid infections. Cosmetic surgery may be used to treat lid defects.