Do your eyes frequently feel dry and irritated? Do you find yourself blinking aggressively to try and produce more tears?

If so, you may be one of millions of people with dry eye disease, one of the most common, yet underdiagnosed, eye conditions in the world.

One survey found that 48% of U.S. adults regularly experience symptoms of dry eye. Nearly 5 million Americans over 50, or about 3.2 million women and 1.68 million men, are affected.

In addition to its impact on quality of life for patients, dry eye costs about $3.84 billion annually to the U.S. healthcare system, and $55.4 billion annually in lost productivity and absenteeism from work.

So what is dry eye, who is at risk, and how can you find relief if you’re one of the millions of folks who suffer from this disease? Let’s take a look.

Why Should You Be Happy About Your Tears?

To understand dry eye we must understand our tears. Most people associate tears with crying in response to emotional situations.

But did you know that a persistent tear film is actually necessary for healthy eyes? Tears protect your eyes from damage caused by debris and pathogens.

A normal, healthy tear film is made up of three layers:

As new tears are produced, old tears drain out of the eye through the tear ducts and into the nasal passages. That’s why you get a runny nose when you cry.

What Type of Dry Eye Do You Have?

Dry eye occurs when your eyes fail to produce enough tears, or when tears evaporate too quickly. There are two primary types of dry eye:

It has been estimated that about 86% of patients have evaporative dry eye. Out of those individuals, most have what is called meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD, which is when the meibomian glands fail to produce enough lipids for the outer tear film layer.

What Causes Dry Eye?

There are several factors that increase your risk of getting dry eye.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?

Dry eye disease can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms:

Dry eye has a significant impact on daily functioning and quality of life.

Lid disease that causes dry eye can start off with some annoying dryness and escalate all the way to major structural damage. That’s why diagnosis and treatment are so important.

What Is the Treatment for Dry Eye?

We have a host of treatment options available, but the first step is to make an appointment to see what type of dry eye you have and to see what stage the disease is in.

The biggest thing is that every person is made differently so treatment plans are tailored to the needs of the individual patient:

If you think you may have dry eye or have questions about the right treatment for you, contact Dr. Katie today to schedule an appointment.

With the correct diagnosis and treatment, you can get relief from your dry eye symptoms!

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