Tear Deficiency

A reduction in tear production can occur with age but also as a result of Sjögren’s syndrome and a number of other general health conditions

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Symptoms

Typical symptoms when the eye cannot produce enough tears are:

  • Burning and even pain
  • Redness
  • Not being able to make tears when you cry
  • Feeling like there’s sand, dirt or something in your eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Intermittent blurred vision
  • Tired eyes – especially after reading or working on a PC

Diagnosis of aqueous deficient dry eye can be made through a comprehensive dry eye assessment.

Reduced Tears

Tear Meniscus

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Causes

A number of medical conditions, as well as medications, can cause aqueous deficient dry eye.  However, the most common causes are:

  • Age: as we get older the lacrimal gland (the gland that produces tears) does not produce as much fluid.
  • Sjögren’s syndrome: is an autoimmune disease when the body’s natural immune system works against the body.  In Sjögren’s syndrome, the immune system targets the salivary and tear glands.  As a result, common symptoms are a dry mouth and gritty eyes.  Females are much more likely to have Sjögren’s syndrome than men.  We may refer you to your GP for blood tests if after your dry eye assessment we suspect that you may have Sjögren’s syndrome.

Treatment

Treatment of aqueous deficient dry involves relieving symptoms and preserving tears.  Relieving dry eye symptoms involves using artificial tears to replenish tear volume.

  • Artificial tears: it’s important to use the drops frequently  – remember artificial tears only lubricate the eye and don’t contain ingredients like antibiotics, so you can use the drops as often as you wish.
  • Punctal occlusion: blocking the tear ducts with puntal plugs is an effective way to preserve the tears.  If plugs are not successful we will discuss a permanent puntal occlusion procedure which can be performed in an out-patient hospital department.

How to Apply Drops

We recommend using artificial tears that are preservative free.  Preservative-free drops can be used with contact lenses.