|CHICAGO Dry Eye Syndrome, a painful condition that can impair vision and increase the risk of eye infection, affects millions of Americans. |
Dry Eye is actually a group of disorders caused by the inability to produce enough tears with sufficient lubrication. Symptoms can include burning or itchy eyes as well as increased eye mucus and a gritty or scratchy feeling on the eyes. Severe cases may even include corneal scarring or ulcers.
Dry Eye is one of the leading causes of visits to eye care professionals. Treatment options vary from eye drops and ointments to some types of surgery.
The risk of Dry Eye increases with age. Other risk factors include patients who have undergone refractive surgery (such as LASIK), have severe allergies, are on certain medications, or are contact lens wearers. Those with rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases are also at increased risk.
Women are also more likely to develop Dry Eye. Approximately six million have moderate to severe symptoms of dry eye syndrome, as compared to three million men, according to the National Women's Health Resource Center.
Women who are pregnant, on certain types of birth control, or experiencing menopause have increased rates of Dry Eye. In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, women who are on hormone replacement therapy are also more likely to experience symptoms. Women taking only estrogen are 70 percent more likely to experience Dry Eye, and those taking estrogen and progesterone have a 30 percent increased risk of developing the condition.
As part of April as Women's Eye Health and Safety Awareness month, Prevent Blindness America offers the following tips on helping to avoid irritation from Dry Eye:
For more information on Dry Eye or other eye diseases or conditions with higher incidence rates in women, contact Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or visit preventblindness.org..
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