Charles D. Fritch MD,
FACS, is a renowned
ophthalmologist, founder
of Fritch Eye Care Medical
Center, and Medical
Director of a fully equipped
Medicare-approved
Ambulatory Center.

Fritch Eye Care Medical Center
8501 Brimhall Road, Suite 401 & 402
Bakersfield, CA 93312
Tel: 661-665-2020

 

Dry Eye Treatment in Bakersfield

Dry eye is a common eye disorder that cannot be cured, but can be effectively treated.

There could be as many as 33 million Americans, half of whom are over the age of 50, who are experiencing some or all the symptoms of the irritating condition known as dry eye. While there are simple and generally effective forms of treatment, the great majority of those suffering from dry eyes are not consulting with an eye doctor and are not undergoing any form of recommended treatment.

If left untreated, dry eye can be more than just irritating or uncomfortable. Excessive dry eye over a period of time can cause serious damage to eye tissue with possible scarring of the cornea, the transparent protective front covering of the eye that performs 80 percent of the refractive vision function. Such damage can result in loss of vision to one degree or another. Dry eye can also make the wearing of contact lenses more difficult, due to the increased possibility of irritation of the cornea and the greater chance of eye infection.

What is Dry Eye?

The normal eye produces tears that are composed of three different layers:

  1. The oily outer layer
  2. The watery middle layer
  3. The mucus inner layer

All three layers must be produced in the proper formulation in order for the tears to perform their intended function, which is proper lubrication of the outer surface of the eye, primarily the cornea. Dry eye occurs when the eye doesn't produce the necessary quantity of tears or produces tears that are lacking in the proper composition. The deficiency usually involves the watery middle layer or the mucus inner layer.

What are the Symptoms?

An ironic aspect of this relatively common eye disorder is that one of the symptoms is excessive watering of the affected eye. The watering is a natural reflex caused by irritation of the cornea by tears that have sub-normal qualities, but in this case quantity is no substitute for quality. This symptom is one reason why so many people with the disorder do not consider the possibility that the term dry eye might apply to them.

Other symptoms include scratchy, dry, irritated or generally uncomfortable eyes.

Sometimes redness of the eyes or a burning sensation is experienced. There can also be the feeling of a presence of a foreign body in the eye, or blurred vision may result from the problem. When looking in a mirror, the eyes may seem to have lost their normal clearness and luster.

What Causes Dry Eye?

As with most eye disorders, dry eye is normally the result of aging and tends to heavily affect people over age 50. As with other body parts, the elements of the eye just do not function as well with age. This includes the eye's ability to produce tears with the proper chemical composition as has been described. However, in addition to age, dry eye can be caused by one or more of the following conditions:

  1. Problems with the normal blinking reflex, which serves to lubricate the eye.
  2. Use of certain types of medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, oral contraceptives or tranquilizers.
  3. Environmental Factors, such as a dry climate, or excessive exposure to the wind.
  4. Chemical or thermal burns to the eyes.
  5. Some special health problems, such as arthritis or an autoimmune condition known as Sjogren's Syndrome, which affects mostly middle-aged women.

What are the Treatments?

Dry eye cannot be permanently cured, but there are effective treatments. The treatment most likely to be recommended is the use of eye drops that have been formulated to simulate the chemical composition of natural tears. There are also soothing ointments that may be applied at bedtime.

Patients who live in a dry climate might benefit from the use of a humidifier in their home or office during especially dry periods.

For more severe cases of dry eye, your eye doctor may recommend the insertion of tiny plugs in the tear drainage canal in the inner corner of each eye. The purpose would be to slow down the drainage of tears from the surface of the eye and thereby provide more natural lubrication. In relatively rare cases, the drainage canals may be permanently closed by a surgical procedure. In both instances, the procedures are simple and painless.

As with all eye disorders, early detection of dry eye will lead to more effective treatment and prevention of the development of serious damage to your eyes.

Therefore, if you are experiencing any of the usual symptoms of dry eye, you should call for an appointment at your earliest convenience. We will use sophisticated diagnostic instruments to examine your eyes for the presence of dry eye. We will also discuss with you any lifestyle habits, environmental factors or medications you may be taking along with other health conditions that could be causing dry eye symptoms. Dry eye is an easily managed eye disorder. Recommended treatment diminishes irritations and aggravations.

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The physicians of Fritch Eye Care Center specialize in treating Fresno LASIK, glaucoma, and cataracts patients. Using cutting-edge technology in their state-of-the-art medical facilities, these Drs. are considered to be specialists in their field.

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