Dry eye results from decreased production of tears. Under normal circumstances, eyes produce tears which provide lubrication and keep eyes healthy. Tears consist of a mixture of oil, mucus, and water. Dry eye is a very common condition that is more prevalent as you get older. If you feel burning in your eyes, watering, grittiness, or feel uncomfortable while reading, operating a computer, or being outside, you may be suffering from dry eyes.
Eyes may become dry if tear production is reduced or if tears lack their necessary lubricating components. If you have dry eyes, you may feel pain with blinking due to friction between your eyelids and cornea, or front surface of your eye.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dry Eye? ¹
Typical signs and symptoms of dry eyes are:
- Blurry vision.
- Sharp pain in the eyes.
- Foreign body sensation in the eyes.
- Burning or stinging sensation in the eyes.
- Accumulation of mucus in or around eyes.
- Difficulty in wearing contact lenses.
- Eyes turn red due to continuous irritation.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Increased tear formation to overcome dryness, reflexive tear formation.
- Difficulty with driving at night.
What Are The Causes And Risk Factors Of Dry Eye? ²
Both males and females may develop dry eyes due to increasing age and hormonal changes. Insufficiency of any of the tear components e.g oil, water, or mucus, results in dry eye.
Some factors which increase the risk of dry eyes include increasing age, feminine gender, and vitamin A deficiency.
Other causes of dry eyes are:
- Some medical conditions associated with decreased tear production such as sjögren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, or vitamin A deficiency.
- Sometimes the eyelids turn inwards or outwards leading to entropion or ectropion respectively.
- Prolonged contact lens wear.
- History of eye surgery like LASIK.
- Certain medications may result in decreased tear formation e.g diuretics, antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, etc.
- Dry climate.
- Being in front of a screen for a long period.
- Patients with Parkinson's disease blink less often and develop dry eyes.
How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed? ²
Your ophthalmologist at Eye Surgeons Associates will perform a complete eye examination and appropriate testing to diagnose dry eye. These tests may include:
- Blink test
- Evaluation of the volume of tears
- Evaluation of the quality of tears
- Tear osmolarity test
How Is Dry Eye Treated? ³
Dry eyes can typically be treated without surgery. Your ophthalmologist at Eye Surgeons Associates will first suggest you use artificial tear drops to increase lubrication. It may also be recommended to use lubricating gel in your eyes at bedtime.
Eye Surgeons Associates may offer alternative treatments options for your dry eyes if symptoms are persistent despite lubrication. One such option are punctal plugs, which are small, removable, silicone plugs that can be placed in the tear ducts of the eyes to decrease drainage of tears, therefore increasing lubrication.
How Is Dry Eye Prevented?
Dry eye is a reversible condition. Avoiding certain situations may prevent the development or lessen the symptoms of dry eye:
- Stay away from a dry environment and use a humidifier in dry seasons.
- Don't blow air directly into your eyes.
- Wear protective glasses before going out in windy and smoky places.
- Position your laptop or digital screens below eye level.
- Make sure to get enough Vitamin-A from your diet.
- Add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.
- Take a break while you are reading or focusing on something longer than usual.
- Change your contact lenses often.
- Visit Eye Surgeon Associates if your symptoms are persistent.
If dry eye is left untreated it may result in eye infections, damage to the cornea, and decreased vision.
1- Dry eyes - Symptoms and causes. (2020, September 24). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371863
2- What Is Dry Eye? (2021, June 14). American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-dry-eye
3- Foster, C. S., MD. (2021, July 29). Dry Eye Disease (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca) Treatment & Management: Approach Considerations, Pharmacologic Therapy, In-Office Procedures, Eye Protection, and Other Interventions. Medscape.Com. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1210417-treatment?src=mbl_msp_android&ref=share