Dry eye syndrome is a common but typically progressive condition. Dry eyes feel tired and sore. If you have dry eyes, your eyes may hurt or burn. You may experience dry eyes in certain conditions. For example, inside an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, while riding a bike or after watching the screen for a few hours.
Every time the eyelids blink, tears spread across the cornea or the top surface of the eye. Tears lubricate the eyes, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away external particles in the eye and keep the cornea smooth and clear.
Any excess tears produced, automatically flow into the tear duct or the small drainage ducts located in the inner corners of the eyelids. It drains into the back of the nose. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage don’t match.
A low level of dry eye syndrome may cause subtle but persistent eye irritation to significant inflammation or even injury to the cornea.
Dry eye disease can be caused due to various reasons. Accordingly, it is approached and gets treated.
Depending on its cause and condition, it may or may not be completely curable. But in most cases, dry eyes get treated successfully. Resulting in greater eye comfort, fewer dry eye symptoms, and sometimes sharper vision.
It may need some surgery or just some lifestyle changes and eyedrops. You may need to take preventive measures continually to control its re-occurrence.
About Tear Production
Tears have three layers: oil, mucus, and water. Each of these protects and nourishes the front surface of the eye. A layer of mucus spreads the tears equally over the surface of the eye, while the smooth oil layer helps limit the evaporation of the water layer. Due to a deficiency in any of the layers, dry, If the tears evaporate too fast or do not spread over the cornea, dry eye symptoms can develop.
Tears are produced by various glands in and around the eyelids. Tear production tends to decline with age, medical conditions or as a side effect of some medicines. Environmental conditions, such as pollution, wind and dry climates, can also decrease tear amount. Because in such weather, evaporation is faster. When tears dry up too quickly from the eyes or the amount of tear production decreases, symptoms of dry eye can develop.
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Commonly, dry eyes occur when the water layer of tears is insufficient. This condition, called KeratoConjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), is also known as Dry Eye Syndrome.
Imbalance in the tear mixture
The top layer is oil. It is produced in the sides of the eyelids, where the Meibomian glands make lipids or fatty oils. The oil smooths the tear surface and prevents evaporation. A lower level of oil causes tears to dry up too quickly.
The middle layer consisting of water and salt and is the thickest. The tear glands or the Lacrimal Glands produce this layer. They help cleanse the eyes and wash away foreign particles and irritants. Problems with this layer may lead to instability of the film. If the water layer is too thin, the oil and mucus layers come in contact with each other, resulting in a sticky secretion, a well-known symptom of dry eyes.
The inner layer of mucus makes the tears spread evenly over the eyes. Any up and down can lead to dry patches on the cornea, the front surface of the eye.
Dry eye symptoms
Symptoms and signs of dry eyes and dry eye syndrome are:
- Red eyes,
- Heavy eyes,
- Fatigued eyes,
- Itchy eyes,
- Sore eyes,
- Aching sensations,
- Burning sensation,
- Dryness sensation,
- Blurred vision,
- Watery eyes also can be a symptom. Because dryness on the surface will, sometimes, over-stimulate the protective mechanism. And, thereby, increase the production of the watery component of your tears. But this “reflex tearing” does not stay on the eye long enough to change the underlying condition of dry eye.
- Another symptom is called a foreign body sensation. It is when you feel as if some grit or some other object or material is inside your eye.
Moreover, dry eyes can cause inflammation and, sometimes permanent, harm to the surface of the eye.
Causes of Dry Eye
Dry eyes develop due to different reasons. We list a few of them below:
- Environment: Exposure to smoke, pollution, wind and dry weather can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms.
- Lifestyle: Not blinking regularly, especially when staring at the blue screen of android or computer for long durations, can also contribute to the drying of the eyes.
- Gender: Women are more likely to have dry eyes. Especially during hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and menopause.
- Age: Dry eyes may occur due to the natural aging process. The majority of people over 65-years, experience some signs of dry eyes.
- Medications: Certain medicines, including decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications, can reduce tear production.
- Medical conditions: Patients with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid problems are more likely to face symptoms of dry eyes. Also, inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (Blepharitis), or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.
- Others: Wearing contact lenses for long durations can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries say, for example, Specs Removal Surgery, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.
Diagnosis of Dry Eye
You can get dry eyes diagnosed after a complete eye examination at the best Eye Hospital Delhi. To evaluate the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes, some tests may be conducted. These may include:
- Evaluation of the eyelids and cornea.
- The patient’s history to ascertain the symptoms. To take note of any general health problems or medications that may be contributing to the dry eye problem.
- Measuring the quantity and quality of tears for any abnormalities. To be able to observe the tear flow some special dyes may be put in the eyes. Thye will help highlight if any harm has occurred to the outer surface of the eye by insufficient tears.
With all this information, your ophthalmologist can determine if you have dry eyes and advise you about the treatment options available.
Treating Dry Eye Syndrome
A doctor will examine the eyes and ask about symptoms, medical history, current medications, and about their work and personal circumstances.
Tests can reveal the amount of tears behind the eyelid. Whether the tear film and the duct are functioning well, and the rate of evaporation.
The goal of the treatment is to keep the eyes well lubricated. But the method would depend on the actual cause.
The ways of keeping the eyes well-lubricated are:
- using artificial tears or eye drops,
- making the optimum use of natural tears,
- reducing tear drainage.
If the problem arises due to an ophthalmic condition, such as an eye infection or psoriasis, that condition needs to be treated first.
Patients that have chronic dry eye condition may be prescribed Cyclosporine eye drops or Restasis, by the eye hospital Delhi. Cyclosporine reduces eye-surface inflammation and results in increased production of tears. Patients who have an eye infection or a history of Herpes viral infection of the eye should not use this.
If someone has Blepharitis, he/she may be asked to clean the affected area regularly with a dilute solution of no-tears shampoo. Some antibiotic drops or ointment may be prescribed to be used at night. Sometimes, an oral antibiotic, such as tetracycline or doxycycline, may be prescribed.
Steroid drops may help reduce inflammation if the signs are still severe. And despite using good eye drops frequently.
Surgery for Dry Eye
Eyelid problems, for example, an incomplete blink, may be treated by an oculoplastic surgeon. Someone specializing in eyelid problems, at the Eye Hospital Delhi.
In some more severe cases, surgery may be done to partially or completely block the tear ducts. So that the tears are conserved within the eyes. Silicone plugs can be out in the tear ducts to block them. To help keep both the natural as well as artificial tears on the eyes for longer durations.
The tissues of the drainage area can be shrunk by using a heated wire in a minor operation known as Thermal Cautery.
A Scleral Lens is a contact lens that rests over the sclera, the white part of the eye. It creates a fluid-filled film on the cornea, preventing it from drying out. This mode of surgery may be undertaken.
Salivary gland transplantation is also a surgical procedure that may be considered if the case is persistent. Or in other words, when other treatments failed to improve the condition. Some of the salivary glands are removed from the lower lip and placed into the sides of the eyes. The saliva they produce substitutes the tears.
Whenever you experience dry eyes, be aware of the conditions that are most likely to cause your symptoms. Then try to avoid those situations. For example:
Add moisture to the air. A humidifier can add moisture to dry indoor air in winters.
Keep yourself hydrated. Simply drinking more water may also help relieve lower levels of dry eye symptoms. Mild dehydration often worsens dry eye conditions. This is especially true during hot, dry and windy weather.
Be aware of your environment. The air at high altitudes, in desert areas, and inside the airplanes can get extremely dry. When you have to be in such an atmosphere, you should frequently close your eyes for a few minutes at a time to minimize the evaporation of your tears.
Avoid air blowing straight in your eyes. Don’t direct hair dryers, air conditioners, car heaters or fans toward your eyes.
Wearing wraparound sunglasses or use other protective eyewear. Safety shields can be attached to the tops and sides of eyeglasses to block wind and dry air. Ask for these shields where you buy your eyeglasses.
Take breaks during long tasks. If you’re reading or doing some other close task that requires visual concentration, take eye breaks regularly. Remember the 20-20-20 formula. After every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Or blink rapidly for a few seconds to help produce and spread your tears evenly over your eyes. You may also close the eyes for a few minutes.
The computer screen must be kept at below eye level. If your computer screen is above the eye level, you’ll need to open your eyes wider to view the screen. A lower position will ensure that you won’t need to open your eyes as wide. This will decrease the rate of evaporation of your tears between eye blinks.
Blink more frequently. Research has shown that people tend to keep their eyes open for a longer period when focusing on something. Decreased blinking can cause or worsen dry eye symptoms. You will need to make a conscious effort to blink more often. Also, remember to blink completely — gently squeezing your eyelids together. This will help spread a fresh layer of tears over the eyes.
Quit smoking and avoid smoke. If you do smoke, consult a doctor for advice devising a plan to help you quit smoking. If you don’t smoke yourself, stay away from people who do. Smoke can worsen dry eye symptoms.
Take Nutritional Supplements. Researches have found that supplements containing Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A & C can decrease dry eye symptoms. Some sources of omega-3 are flaxseed oil, cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, etc.
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Thoroughly remove eye makeup. Eyeliner, kohl, and other eye makeup can obstruct the openings of the Meibomian glands at the base of the eyelashes, leading to Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and dry eye. At the end of the day, be sure to remove all traces of makeup from your lids and lashes.
Keep your eyelids clean. When washing your face before bedtime, tenderly wash your eyelids to remove bacteria that can cause Blepharitis and Meibomian Gland problems that lead to dry eyes. Apply a warm, moist washcloth to the closed lids for around 20 seconds. Then gently wash your lids and lashes with a mild cleanser.
Reducing or discontinuing contact lens wear. If you wear contact lenses, it can be difficult to tell if the dry eye condition is causing contact lens discomfort or if your contact lenses are causing the symptoms. If you wear contacts, it is often advised to discontinue wearing them. Or at least switch to daily disposable contact lenses, while the eyes are being treated.
Use artificial tears regularly. If you have a chronic condition, use eyedrops even if you feel fine.
To know for sure if your dry eyes need prevention, medicines or surgery, is to visit the best Eye Hospital Delhi. Your eye doctor will examine the eye thoroughly.
Call +91-8851044355 now and book an appointment with EyeMantra. Or mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.