Q & A

What is dry eye ?

Dry eye occurs when the quantity and/or quality of tears fails to keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated.  Experts estimate that dry eye affects millions of adults in the United States.  The risk of developing dry eye increases with advancing age.  Women have a higher prevalence of dry eye compared with men.  It causes a scratchy sensation or the feeling that something is in the eye.  Other symptoms include stinging or burning, episodes of excess tearing that follow periods of dryness, discharge, pain, and redness in the eye.  People with dry eye may also feel as if their eyelids are heavy and may experience blurred vision.

What are tears and how do they relate to dry eye?

Tears are a complex mixture of fatty oils, water, mucus, and more than 1500 different proteins that keep the surface of the eye smooth and protected from the environment, irritants, and infectious pathogens.  They form 3 layers on the eye: an oil layer, water layer, and mucin layer.  In a healthy eye, lubricating tears continuously bathe the surface of the eye.  Vision may be affected because tears on the surface of the eye play an important role in focusing light.

What causes dry eye?

Dry eye can occur when tear production decreases, tear evaporation increases, or tear composition is imbalanced. Factors that can contribute to dry eye include the following:

  • Medications including antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy to relieve symptoms of menopause, and medications for anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and high blood pressure have been associated with dry eye.

  • Advancing age is a risk factor for declines in tear production. Dry eye is more common in people age 50 years or older.

  • Rosacea (an inflammatory skin disease) and blepharitis (an inflammatory eyelid disease) can disrupt the function of the Meibomian glands.

  • Autoimmune disorders such as Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and Vitamin A deficiency are associated with dry eye. 

  • Women are more likely to develop dry eye. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and after menopause have been linked with dry eye. 

  • Windy, smoky, or dry environments

  • Seasonal allergies

  • Prolonged periods of screen time 

  • Laser eye surgery 

How is dry eye treated?

If you are experiencing symptoms, schedule and evaluation with Dr. Westcott to determine the cause, which guides treatment strategy.

Some treatment options:

  • Artificial tears, gels, and ointments.

  • Environmental and lifestyle changes: cutting back on screen time, blinking repeatedly, wrap sunglasses that block wind, smoking cessation

  • Medications: Restasis (cyclosporine), Xiidra (lifitegrast), and/or corticosteroids

  • Punctal plugs 

Visionary Eye Center West

10088 W Indiantown Rd Suite B Jupiter FL, 33478

Phone: (561) 250 - 0655   Fax: (561) 250 - 0677  


Visionary Eye Center East

3893 Military Trail Suite 4 Jupiter FL, 33458

Phone: (561) 429- 8753   Fax: (561) 630- 7066