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Your tears function to protect the eyes and keep them lubricated and comfortable. Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is the decline of the quantity and/or quality of the tears produced. It is caused when the tear glands in the upper and lower eyelids do not produce enough tears, or they don't produce the right kind of tears. This phenomenon causes the eyes to feel irritated, scratchy, burning, red, and uncomfortable. Dry Eye Syndrome is the most common of all eye disorders, affecting approximately 20% of our population.

Your eyes are moistened by two different types of tears: lubricating tears and reflex tears. Lubricating tears are produced continuously to moisturize the eye and contain natural infection-fighting antibiotics. Reflex tears are produced in response to sudden irritation (smoke, onions, foreign particles), injury, or emotion. Ironically, the irritation from dry eyes can trigger reflex tears, which flood the eye. But because reflex tears do not have the proper lubricating composition, the discomfort persists. Thus, "watery eyes" can actually be a symptom of Dry Eye Syndrome.

Depending on the intensity of the condition, treatment may be as simple as using artificial tears a few times a day. In more persistent cases, however, a simple non-surgical procedure is available that provides long-term relief of Dry Eye Syndrome through the use of tiny plugs called "punctal occluders."

As the name suggests, these devices occlude (block) the punctum, or tear duct, which is the drainage duct that carries tears away from the surface of the eye. There are upper and lower punctum ducts in the inner corner of each eye. Blocking these drainage ducts prevents tears from draining away too quickly. Punctal occlusion can be compared to putting a stopper in a sink drain, keeping the tears on the eye's surface for longer periods. This widely performed procedure is safe, quick, painless, and totally reversible.

Punctal occluders are made of a very soft flexible silicone, similar to that used in contact lenses. Though they are barely visible to the naked eye, they are carefully manufactured into an extremely smooth and precise design.

If you experience any of the symptoms below, you maybe suffering from Dry Eye Syndrome. Left untreated, your symptoms will most likely intensify, making your daily life unpleasant, or worse, deteriorate your visual acuity. If you notice any of the symptoms listed below, please call our office at (858) 272-2211 and schedule your dry eye testing visit.