Eyes of NM Dry Eye Center

dry eye crackedWhat is Dry Eye or Ocular Surface Disease?

Dry eye is very prevalent here in New Mexico due to our dry conditions. It is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults, although we are beginning to see this in younger people as well.

What causes Dry Eyes or Ocular Surface Disease?

Dry eyes can result from an improper balance and reduction of tear production.

Human tears are produced by the lacrimal glands, glands found in and around the eyelids. Tear production tends to diminish with age, with various medical conditions, or as a side effect of certain medicines. Environmental conditions such as wind and dry climates can also affect tear volume by increasing tear evaporation. How we blink also plays a tremendous role in our tears. Our blink rate is impacted by any activity where we are completely focused on the task including but not limited to computer use, phone use, video games and reading. When the normal amount of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.

Lack of any components of the tear film can lead to evaporative dry eye.

Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. Each component serves a function in protecting and nourishing the front surface of the eye. A smooth oil layer helps to prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucin layer functions in spreading the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If the tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly over the cornea due to deficiencies with any of the three tear layers, symptoms can develop.

What are the symptoms of Dry Eye or Ocular Surface Disease?

If you have dry eye, your symptoms may include irritated, scratchy, dry uncomfortable or red eyes, burning sensation, excessive tearing, blurred vision, or a feeling of something in their eyes. Patients complain of a “gritty” or “sandy” feeling.

Our eye doctor specializes in the diagnosis and management of ocular surface disease.

Dr. Martinez has struggled with dry eyes for over a decade, before she even knew what it is. It started in the same way as many of our patients often start, with discomfort with contact lens wear. As a native to Albuquerque, NM she has dealt with the dry climate conditions for years. Since the cause was not properly identified she did what many people do in this case, she went and had Lasik surgery. After her surgery she had more discomfort with her eyes and she still needed glasses. Once she started getting current on the up to date research she was able to identify herself as one of these patients suffering from chronic dry eyes. She is now completely invested in managing ocular surface disease in her practice.