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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Dry Eye Syndrome
May 2000

Q. I am a female experiencing dry eye syndrome. I had my tear ducts plugged and have used various eye drops and gels. I still cannot find the right remedy. My eyes produce many tears at times and not enough at other times. My ophthalmologist cannot offer any other solutions. What do you advise?

A. Tears are produced by your eyes, which are then drained through the tear duct to the back of your nose. Excessive drying can be caused by an inability to produce enough tears. Excessive tearing is usually caused if there is a blockage in the tear duct. Given that you had your tear ducts plugged and have used various drops and gels as well as seeing your ophthalmologist, a blood test may find the possible cause of the dryness. Some medical syndromes associated with dry eyes can be diagnosed in the blood. One syndrome is Sjogren's Syndrome, which predominantly affects females and is associated with dry eyes and mouth and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the end, however, it is possible a cause may not be found and a remedy may not be able to provide an adequate symptomatic relief for your problem. In any case, you must realize that the medications you have used may have been primarily designed to treat the symptoms, rather than the primary cause. Therefore, they should be continued as needed. Remember, just because the symptoms persist, this doesn't mean the medications have failed. Instead, you are interested in medication to making your eyes feel better. Some patients have to take medication up to every 30 minutes.

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