4901 Calhoun Rd
Houston, Texas 77004

(713) 743-2020 | Monday - Friday 8AM -6PM

University Eye Institute | Our Services

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye is a multi-factorial disease of the tears and ocular surface that results in symptoms of discomfort, visual disturbance and tear film instability with potential damage to the ocular surface. It is accompanied by increased osmolarity (concentration of salts) of the tear film and inflammation of the ocular surface.

Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) can occur when the tear glands don't produce the right quantity or quality of tears. This can result in a poor tear film that doesn’t provide enough protection to the surface of your eye. Significant damage to the ocular surface can develop.

What are Common Dry Eye Symptoms?

Symptoms of DES include blurred or variable vision, sensitivity to light, pain or feelings of dryness, burning, stinging and gritty sensations. DES can result in chronic red eyes and even increase your risk of infection.

What causes Dry Eye?

Chronic irritation to the ocular surface:

  • Allergies
  • Air conditioning, heating systems or ceiling fans
  • Dry environments including frequent airline travel
  • Improper contact lens use, fit and contact lens solutions
  • Computer use
  • Eyelid disease
  • Cigarette smoke

Some prescription and over-the counter medications:

  • Antihistamines/Decongestants
  • Antidepressants
  • Acne treatments
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Diuretics
  • Eye drops (i.e. glaucoma, red eye reducers etc).
  • Oral contraceptives

Other risk factors include:

  • Advancing age
  • Poor diet/water intake
  • Hormonal changes/menopause
  • Chemotherapy/radiation
  • LASIK or other eye surgery
  • Diseases such as arthritis, diabetes,lupus thyroid disease, and Sjögren's Syndrome

Treatment options for DES

There is no cure for DES, but treatment may include lubricating drops, gels or ointments, daily eyelid hygiene procedures or a change in working environment. Ocular prescription therapies like Restasis®, increase natural tear production and may work well for certain patients. In addition, oral medications such as Doxycycline can help reduce inflammation in certain varieties of DES.

Other treatments can include the surgical blockage of tear drainage ducts (punctual occlusion), a change in diet such as increasing omega-3 essential fatty acid intake, moisture-chamber goggles or even being fit with specialty contact lenses. The doctors at the Dry Eye Center will recommend the best treatment plan for your specific type of dry eye.

Helpful tips

  • Wear sunglasses outside
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid excess caffeine
  • Turn off ceiling fans at night and re-direct air vents
  • Stop smoking
  • Take frequent breaks when using the computer