What is the dry eye syndrome?

What is the dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a group of symptoms pertaining to the tear-producing problem in the eye. Either the eyes are unable to produce enough tears, or tears are vaporised immediately. This can cause the eyes to dry out and become inflamed. This common condition grows on with age, especially in women.

Tears comprise water, fats, proteins, mucus, and infection-fighting cells. Many different glands in the eye produce tears. Such organs are found in the upper eyelid and the mucous membrane that covers the white part of the eye.

A tear film comprises three essential components: oily (lipid) component, watery (aqueous) component and mucous-like (mucin) component. Each element of the tear film is responsible for a particular purpose. Tear lipids stop evaporation from tear film quickly and enhance lubrication. Mucin holds and spreads the tears on the eye surface.

Importance of tears

Tears mainly provide lubrication in the eye, keep the eyes clean and free of dust. Tears safeguard the eye against infection and stabilise vision.

Symptoms

Symptoms of dry eyes are mainly mild in most of the people. However, it turns into painful and irritating in severe conditions.

The following are symptoms of the dry eyes:

a) Heavy eyelids

b) Eyes feel soreness, grittiness or dryness

c) When you wake up from sleep, your eyelids are stuck together.

d) Blurred vision, when you blink your eyes, vision goes better.

e) Periods of excess tears, which follows a dry spell

f) Burning sensation

g) Red eyes

g) Feeling of irritation when wearing contact lenses

In case, you experience the beginning of the above-mentioned symptoms continuously; you should consult an eye specialist.

Causes

There are many reasons for dry eye syndrome. It can be due to the natural ageing process, overuse of contact lenses, problems with the eyelids, or Blepharitisor a side effect of some prescription drugs. Blepharitis is a common (and usually mild) chronic inflammation of the rims of the eyelids.

Dry eye symptoms can occur or worsen when exposed to hot, dry or windy climates, high altitudes, air conditioning, central heating and cigarette smoke. Nevertheless, it is mainly due to a combination of more than one of these factors.

Precautions

1)  Avoid medicines that can cause or worsen the dry eye.

2)  Compensate for environmental factors, like using a humidifier at home or in the workplace to help reduce dryness.

3)  Whilst using a computer, smartphone or other digital displays, your blink rate is vastly reduced which can worsen dry eye symptoms. So, blink your eyes more often when you view these devices and gently squeeze your eyelids together to spread moisture inside the eyes.

4)  Change your work habits. For instance, if you do a lot of computer work, then you need to rest your eyes every hour.

5)  Adjust the position of your computer screen below eye level. In this way, you would not open your eyes widely, which will reduce the evaporation of tears from the eye.

6)  Smoking typically worsens dry eyes syndrome, hence stopping smoking is advisable. If you are a non-smoker, it is advisable you minimise the amount of time in smoky areas.

7)  Before going to bedtime, you should wash your face and wash your eyelids gently to remove bacteria. Such bacteria can cause blepharitis and meibomian gland problems that ultimately result in dry eye symptoms. Place a warm, moist washcloth on the closed lids for a few seconds.

8)  When you go outdoors in the daylight, always wear sunglasses of good quality, which block the sun’s UV rays.

9)  Air conditioning and the air heating systems can reduce the indoor humidity, which results in tear evaporation.

10) Many a medication such as antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medications and birth control pills increase the dry eye syndrome.

11)  The dry eyes in the children improved when they reduce the use of smartphones, televisions and computers. The outdoor activities these were replaced with appeared to safeguard against pediatric dry eye disease.  

Dry eye tests

For diagnosing chronic dry eye syndrome, the eye specialist has to perform one or more tests. Only symptoms cannot notably indicate dry eye syndrome. Symptoms can be different from person to person, and may even have an impact on personality type.

Only a careful examination of the eyes by an eye specialist can indicate the presence and severity of dry eye syndrome. Only an eye specialist will be able to use the best type of dry eye treatment so that your eyes will be healthy and comfortable.

Treatment

If you are under medical treatment and its medicines are causing dry eye syndrome, then your general physician would prescribe treatment for your dry eyes.

Dry eyes are usually eased by using artificial tears in the eyes. Drops, gels and ointments are three types of tear substitutes. However, these are not the permanent solution to cure dry eyes. Consequently, you will need to regularly use artificial tears to considerably reduce the symptoms.

Dry eye is primarily not severe but sometimes it can become problematic, and it may require lifelong treatment. If at any point the symptoms of dry eyes change, then you will have to consult some eye specialist for the proper curative measures.

If it is severe and all the treatments by a general physician have failed to produce a positive outcome, then surgery with an eye specialist would be the ultimate option to cure it. One such surgical technique is punctual occlusion which uses small plugs to seal your tear ducts.

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