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Dry Eye

Dry eye in Yuma, Arizona, is very common due to the hot, dry climate. This is a common disease in which the eye under-produces tears or tears leave the eye too quickly. For someone with dry eye, the lack of moisture and lubrication can cause a variety of problems including burning, itching, and other painful side-effects.

Over 12 million people in the United States are estimated to have dry eyes. If you are experiencing any symptoms of dry eye, we encourage you to contact us today. Request an appointment online or call (928) 782-1980 for an eye examination or to learn more.

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Dr. Aiello's unique combination of compassion and qualifications sets him apart as one of the leading ophthalmologists in the field.

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What is dry eye?

A normal functioning eye constantly produces tears to form a tear film, which acts as moisturizer and lubricant. Normally, blinking helps the eyelids to spread a film of tears over our eyes. Dry eye is what we experience when our tears do not adequately moisturize the eyes. Sometimes a person with dry eye syndrome will have excessive tears running down their cheeks. The reason this happens is because the eyes send a signal to the brain, which asks them to produce more tears. The excessive tearing is a compensatory mechanism for that dryness.

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Am I at risk?

Dry eye syndrome is typically more common in older people and in women; however, there are many other factors that can cause this to happen. A common cause of dry eye can be over the counter and prescription medications such as antihistamines, beta-blockers, sleeping pills, pain relievers and many others. Overuse of diuretics can also play a role in developing dry eye. For this reason, it is very important to inform your ophthalmologist about any medications you are currently taking, which can help ensure proper diagnosis of the disease.

Other risk factors for dry eye include:

  • Environmental conditions
  • The natural aging process, especially after menopause
  • Side effects of certain medications and birth control pills
  • Diseases that affect one's ability to produce tears
  • Structural problems with the eyelids that may prevent them from closing all the way

What are the symptoms?

Though it sounds contradictory, sometimes the eye will actually produce excessive tears, and even overflow, in individuals with dry eye. This is because the eye becomes irritated by the lack of lubrication and attempts to cleanse itself with a flood of tears – such as when foreign matter is stuck in the eye.

Other common symptoms of dry eye may include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Pain
  • Irritation and redness
  • A scratchy, sand-like, gritty sensation
  • Blurring of the vision
  • Excessive tearing
  • A stringy discharge

What treatments are available?

Natural Therapy

  • Blink! – Oftentimes people get so involved in reading or working on the computer that they forget to blink as often as necessary to lubricate the eye naturally.
  • Use indoor air filters to remove dust and particles that may irritate already dry eyes.
  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day; dry eye symptoms are worsened by dehydration.
  • Wear sunglasses while outdoors to protect your eyes from the environment.
  • Use a humidifier indoors to keep the humidity between 30 – 50%.
  • When your eyes are at their driest, wear glasses instead of contact lenses.
  • Supplement your diet with foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Artificial Tears and Ointments

The use of artificial tears is the most common and primary treatment for dry eyes. Artificial tears are available over the counter, although an appointment with your eye doctor is advisable to make sure there is no other underlying condition, such as infection.

If you are being treated for dry eye with over the counter eye drops, it is important to remember to use the eye drops regularly, not just when the eyes feel dry, in order to keep them lubricated. For those people who wake up with extremely dry eyes, it is advisable to use an ointment or thicker lubricant at bedtime in order to keep your eyes moist longer.

Punctal Occlusion

Located in the corners of the eyes on each lid, near the nose are small drains called puncta through which tears drain out of the eyes. One of the common treatments for dry eye, when lubricating eye drops are not effective, is punctual occlusion. This is a very quick and painless in-office procedure done by your ophthalmologist in Yuma, Arizona, while you are still in the exam chair. Using a tool made specifically for inserting these punctual plugs, your doctor will place plugs in the puncta. These are just what they sound like – plugs. They work very similarly to the drain plug in a sink: they keep the tears from draining out of your eyes. The severity of your symptoms will determine how many puncta Dr. Aiello will choose to occlude. The plugs come in different sizes and usually slide right in. For those with smaller puncta, it may be necessary for Dr. Aiello to do some fancy maneuvering to get them in, but overall it is still a quick and painless process.


RESTASIS® Ophthalmic Emulsion is a medicated eye drop that is used twice a day for the treatment of chronic dry eye. This medication helps your eyes to increase their own tear production and has been tolerated well by most of our patients.

Surgical Intervention

In extreme cases, the procedure can be performed to permanently occlude the puncta. This procedure involves cauterizing the tissue at the opening of those drainage canals, sealing them off permanently. Unlike the use of punctal plugs, this procedure is irreversible. For those patients who suffer chronic painful dry eye syndrome and have experienced no relief with other treatments, this may be the last resort.

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