The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Newsblurb: Dry eye in the military

This is the first time I recall seeing an article draw attention to the higher risk of dry eye in the military:

Military members susceptible to dry eye syndrome
March 5, 2010
The Fort Leavenworth Lamp

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Have you experienced a stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes? Have you ever had stringy mucus in or around your eyes, increased eye irritation from smoke or wind, eye fatigue after short periods of reading? Perhaps you've noticed light sensitivity, tearing, blurred vision or a sense that a foreign substance is in your eyes.

If so, you may have dry eyes.

Dry eye syndrome is a common disorder that affects a large part of the population, mostly women and those over age 40. However, because of environmental conditions at military installations and deployment locations, service members may also be at risk for DES.

This condition results when there is an imbalance in the tear system. Tears are a mixture of saltwater, fatty oils and mucus. Together these three layers form a film that lubricates the eyes between blinks, resulting in comfortable and clear vision. When these three layers are not performing properly, dry eyes may result. Decreased production of fluids from tear glands can destabilize the tear film, allowing it to break down and create dry spots on the surface of the eyes.

Dry eyes can also occur when individuals cannot produce enough tears to keep their eyes lubricated or when there is excessive tear evaporation. Other factors that have been associated with dry eyes are adverse reactions to medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines and oral contraceptives. Exposure to environmental conditions that have a drying effect can also increase the risk for dry eyes.

Although no cure exists for DES, many treatments are available. Seek medical advice for prolonged symptoms, such as red, itchy, tired and painful eyes.

If DES is diagnosed, your health care provider may use artificial tear drops, ointments, silicone plugs, prescription eye drops or other medications to alleviate the symptoms...