What is tear deficiency?
Tear deficiency is also known as aqueous deficiency dry eye disease. It occurs when they eye is not producing enough volume of tears. This can occur as a result of ageing, as a result of Sjögren’s syndrome and has been linked to certain medication and general health conditions.
As we age the lacrimal gland (the gland that produces a large component of our tear film) simply does not produce as much fluid and can lead to tear deficiency. In Sjögren’s syndrome (an auto-immune disorder) the immune system targets the tear glands and salivary glands giving rise to symptoms of dry eye and dry mouth. If this is suspected we would normally refer you to your GP for blood testing to confirm the diagnosis. Sjögren’s syndrome is more common in woman than in men
What are the symptoms of tear deficiency?
Symptoms can include:
- Burning sensation
- Red eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Tired eyes – especially after reading, working on a PC or a long drive
- Foreign body sensation – feeling like sand in your eyes
- Intermittent blurred vision
- The inability to make tears when you cry
- In severe cases pain
How do you treat tear deficiency?
Aqueous deficiency is not something we aim to cure unfortunately. Instead our treatments aim to relieve the symptoms of dry eye and avoid damage to the surface of the eye. This can be achieved using artificial tears an ocular lubricants. There are a mind-boggling and confusing array of eye drops on the market. Our optometrists will recommend an eye drops, or series of eye drops that best suit your lifestyle, severity of dry eye and overall needs. You can use artificial tears too infrequently, but never too much.
Another option we may explore is the use of punctal plugs to trap tears and eye drops on the surface of the eye to help relieve the symptoms of dry eye. Synthetic temporary punctal plugs and semi-permanent silicone plugs can be used to block or reduce the drainage from the eye. Our optometrists will discuss whether or not these are advisable or applicable in your case.