Dry eye is a common eye health issue that develops when you either don’t produce enough tears, or your tears aren’t moisturizing enough. At his practice in South Pasadena, California, board-certified ophthalmologist Mitchell C. Latter, MD, diagnoses and treats dry eye to improve your eye health and your comfort. If your eyes are always gritty, itchy, and red, call Dr. Latter’s office or schedule an appointment online today.

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What is dry eye?

Dry eye is an uncomfortable eye condition that develops when your eyes don’t produce tears in sufficient quantities or of sufficient quality to keep your eyes moist.

Your tears have three layers — oil, water, and mucus — that spread your tears over your eyes, keep the tears on your eyes, and prevent them from evaporating too quickly. If any of these components is inadequate, your tears don’t effectively clean or moisturize your eyes and you develop dry eye symptoms.

Common dry eye symptoms include:

  • Excessive tearing and watery eyes
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Gritty sensation, or feeling like something is in your eye
  • Stringy mucus around your eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Problems seeing at night
  • Discomfort while wearing contacts

While you may feel that dry eye symptoms are benign or due to your environment, you should still talk to an experienced ophthalmologist like Dr. Latter.

What causes dry eye?

Many factors contribute to dry eye. For example, as you age, you naturally produce fewer tears. Also, certain medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid issues, and medicines such as antihistamines, blood pressure drugs, and antidepressants can lead to dry eye symptoms.

Long-term use of contact lenses, a dry environment, and too much time staring at a computer screen can also lead to dry eye.

How is dry eye treated?

Dr. Latter operates a TearLab™ accredited dry eye treatment center to diagnose and relieve dry eye. He offers tests including TearLab osmolarity and InflammaDry® for the MMP-9 enzyme that measure the quality of your tears and look for certain proteins that indicate poor or insufficient tear production.

Dr. Latter may suggest that you use over-the-counter artificial tears to keep your eyes moist and clean. You may need to try a few brands to discover which formulation works best for you. You should also wear sunglasses or eyeglasses when you’re outside to protect your eyes from wind and dust.

If over-the-counter drops aren’t effective, Dr. Latter can prescribe stronger eye drop medication such as Restasis® or Xiidra®️. He can also place punctal plugs into your tear ducts to help your eyes conserve tears for more efficient production. Newer modalities such as Prokera®️ amniotic membrane corneal bandage can be used for resistant cases.

If your eyes are always dry and gritty or if they’re continuously watery, call Dr. Latter’s office or schedule an appointment online today to treat your uncomfortable and painful symptoms.