Dry Eyes

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Blepharitis and Dry Eye Disease

Blepharitis  is a chronic inflammation (swelling) of the eyelids that causes irritation, itching, and redness.  The chronic inflammation can be caused by a number of different factors, including allergies, bacteria, mites, and skin disease.  Occasionally, crusting and scaling of the eyelid skin is present.  Blepharitis often occurs in adults and children who have oily skin, dandruff, or dry eyes, and it can also be a reaction to normal bacteria that live on the eyelid skin.  A thorough, comprehensive eye exam can determine the cause of blepharitis in most patients so that the appropriate treatment can decrease symptoms.

Dry eye disease occurs when the normal lubrication system of the eye malfunctions.  The cornea, which is the clear structure in the front of eye, requires a smooth layer of tear film in order for the eye to see clearly.  The tear film consists of mucous produced on the surface of the eye, liquid produced by glands in the structures around the eye, and oil produced by small glands inside the eyelids (Meibomian glands).  Malfunction of any one, or a combination, of these structures can cause dry eye disease.  Sometimes the eye will attempt to compensate by signaling for increased tear production causing tearing.  Other symptoms can include:  blurry vision, foreign body sensation (the feeling of something in the eye),  and pain.  The symptoms of dry eye disease can mimic other serious conditions, so a careful examination is warranted.  Treatments depend on the cause of the dry eye disease and can include multiple types of artificial tears, anti-inflammatory medications, Meibomian gland treatments, antibiotics, and eyelid punctal plugs.

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