Dry, painful eyes

Can you advise on eyes that pain when watching TV or reading a book?

Q: >I am a 40-year-old woman. When I watch TV, or read a book, my eyes become painful. They are also often dry. A gel I’ve been asked to use provides some relief, but only for a short period of time. A specialist I recently consulted says that it would be a good idea to have my tear ducts blocked. Please advice.

A: Women are more prone to be affected with dry eyes than men. The problem generally occurs around age 35. It tends to be permanent.

The problem, in certain instances, may also be the outcome of an immune disorder [Sjögren’s syndrome] that presents with dry eyes. As the disorder progresses, the glands in the throat get affected. The disorder, however, is not common, but it would be advisable to rule out the possibility.

Symptoms such as lack of saliva, difficulty in swallowing, and coarse red, dry eyes are characteristic of Sjögren’s syndrome. Since you only have dry, painful eyes, it is understandable that your doctor has advised you to use a gel — the primary line of treatment.

However, as you have not found the gel useful, it would be advisable for you to get assessed — to find out the damage, if any, caused to the lachrymal glands. Lachrymal glands are glands that produce tears in our eyes. If the glands produce tears, it may make sense to block the ducts. When this is done, the tears seem to last longer. This treatment plan generally works well in most cases. In the event of Sjögren’s syndrome, the rule of the thumb is prescription medicines that help manage the disease process and prevent impairment to the glands [that lubricate the eyes].

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