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There are multiple causes behind the symptoms, so finding the specific cause and the best treatment is not as straightforward as it may seem. Also, the term “dry eyes” may actually be one symptom of other conditions, such as Sjogren’s Syndrome, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, or, simply Dry Eye Syndrome. Dry eyes may be one aspect of a long-term medical issue, be caused by certain medications or result from short-term disruption of the ocular tissue, such as that seen after LASIK surgery.
Because the three “official” diagnoses listed in bold above are not very helpful to understanding, we will refer to the complex interaction of tear quantity, quality and causes as Dry Eye Symptoms, (DES) because this term encompasses all types of tear quality or quantity issues.
Dry eyes can be caused by allergies, medications, inflammatory diseases or even simply aging. Women are affected more often than men, particularly in older populations. Dry eye symptoms should not be regarded as “just one of those things” we have to put up with as we age, because dry eyes are not just uncomfortable but can cause real, long-term damage to the eye. Early diagnosis and treatment help prevent this and have the added benefit of decreasing the often significant discomfort caused by it.