What Are the Long-term Effects of Untreated Dry Eye Syndrome?

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Dry eye syndrome is a common but uncomfortable condition that causes burning, stinging, itching, and blurry vision. Dry eyes can even lead to more serious complications, like eye inflammation and corneal ulcers. Cataract & Refractive Institute of Florida is proud to provide comprehensive and compassionate care for patients with dry eye syndrome in Lee County.

Below, Dr. James E. Croley III discusses the long-term effects of untreated dry eyes. We also provide information on how to identify these symptoms at home. Call one of our office locations in Cape Coral, Lehigh, or Bonita Springs, FL to schedule a consultation and get started with treatment.

What causes dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome occurs when the tear glands do not produce enough tears, or when the tears are of poor quality. This can happen for any of the following reasons:

  • Advanced age
  • Hormonal changes (e.g., during menopause)
  • Medications (e.g., antidepressants, antihistamines)
  • Environmental factors (e.g., wind, smoke, dry air)
  • Medical conditions (e.g., Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis)

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome ranges from mild to severe in patients, and it may come and go depending on the source of the issue. Common symptoms include:

  • Burning sensation
  • Stinging
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive tearing
  • Sensitivity to light

Additionally, people with dry eye syndrome feel like they have dirt or sand in their eyes, and experience pain when wearing contact lenses. We encourage patients to avoid wearing contacts until the condition is managed.

If you have any of the above issues, it is important to see an experienced eye doctor, like Dr. Croley in Lee County. Our staff can perform an eye exam to determine the cause of your symptoms and develop a treatment plan moving forward.

The long-term effects of dry eye syndrome

Dry eyes may seem like a minor annoyance in Cape Coral, Lehigh, and Bonita Springs, FL, but untreated, dry eyes may lead to serious problems down the line. These include:

  • Eye inflammation: Without enough tears to keep the eyes lubricated, eye inflammation and irritation occur.
  • Corneal ulcers: Corneal ulcers are open sores on the surface of the eye. Ulcers cause pain, redness, and light sensitivity.
  • Permanent damage to the eye: Untreated, dry eyes may permanently damage the cornea. This could lead to vision loss or even blindness.

How we treat dry eye syndrome

Before creating a custom treatment plan, Cataract & Refractive Institute of Florida uses a slit lamp microscope to assess the surface of the eye. Dr. Croley may also administer a special dye to determine if the cornea was damaged in any way.

We generally recommend a prescription or over-the-counter eye drops for mild cases of dry eye syndrome. These drops act as artificial tears and properly lubricate the eyes when needed.

Moderate to severe cases of dry eyes may require special plugs placed in the tear ducts. Also called punctal occlusion, this solution is designed to keep your real tears from draining too quickly. We offer both temporary and long-lasting options depending on your needs.

Manage dry eyes with our help

We understand that dry eye syndrome can be frustrating. If you have red and burning eyes, or a more serious condition like corneal ulcers, do not hesitate to call Cataract & Refractive Institute of Florida. We have offices conveniently located in Cape Coral, Lehigh, and Bonita Springs in Lee County, FL. Dr. James E. Croley III can help you achieve long-term relief through cutting-edge treatments.

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