What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye occurs when your eyes are unable to produce enough tears or when your tears are unable to provide enough lubrication. An adequate and consistent layer of tears on the surface of the eye is essential to keep your eyes healthy, comfortable, and seeing well. When this layer or tear film’s functioning is disturbed, it leads to dry eye.

What are the causes of Dry Eye?

There are variety of reasons that disrupt the healthy tear film or can cause dry eye. Our tear film has three layers — fatty oils, aqueous fluid and mucus. This combination normally keeps the surface of your eyes lubricated, smooth and clear. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eyes.

Hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases, inflamed eyelid glands or allergic eye disease are the major reasons for dry eye or tear film dysfunction. For some people, the cause of dry eyes is decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation.

Symptoms of dry eye

Knowing the symptoms can help your detect your dry eye at an early stage. Some of the common symptoms that a person with dry eye may experience are

  • Itching or irritation in eyes
  • Heaviness of eyes
  • Foreign body sensation in eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Stringing mucous in the eye
  • Burning sensation in eyes
  • Decreased night vision
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Sensitivity to light or bright lights
  • Watery eyes

Note :- Another symptom of dry eye is excessive tears. This may sound contradictory but it is also a symptom, when your eyes are highly uncomfortable and irritated due to dry eyes, they produce excessive tears. This excessive tear results in watery eyes.

Risk factor

  • Age is the biggest risk factor for dry eye.
  • Excessive screen time which includes computer, mobile, laptop, tablet most common risk factor for dry eyes.
  • If you had diseases that affect your ability to make tears, like Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases.
  • If your diet plan lack vitamin A.
  • If you wear contact lenses.
  • You can have dry eyes as a side effect of any eye disease, injuries or surgery.
  • Menopause can also lead to dry eye.
  • Women are also prone to dry eyes especially those who had hormonal changes during pregnancy.

What are the preventive steps that can be taken?

A good step today may decrease your chances of getting affected by dry eyes. Preventive steps has a very important role to play. Some of the steps or precautions that can be taken are as follows :-

  • You must eat healthy food. Nutritional diet is the key step to prevent eye diseases.
  • You must drink 8-10 glasses of water daily.
  • Do not blow air into your eyes. You should not let the air from hair dryers, air conditioners or heater get into your eyes.
  • Wear mask of proper size. Any air that gets from the space can lead to dry eyes.
  • It is important to get some good outside exposure. Outside environment can bring moisture to your eyes which will reduce your chances of getting affected by dry eyes.

How to diagnose dry eye?

Your ophthalmologist will begin with an eye exam. Your doctor or Opthalmologist will carefully examine or observe your eyelids and the surface of the eye. They will also check how you blink.

There are different tests that can help to diagnose dry eyes. Your ophthalmologist may do a test that measures the quality or the thickness of your tears. He or she may also measure how quickly you produce tears. In case of severe dry eyes with systemic diseases several blood test has to be done.

Can dry eyes be treated?

Though dry eye may not go away completely but you can get relief from it through different treatments. One of the most commonly prescribed treatment is eye drops. You can get these eye drops (artificial tears) as a prescription. There are also over-the-counter moisturizing gels and ointments that may help your eyes feel better. If your dry eye is serious then your doctor will prescribe you oral medicines along with the eye drops. Your ophthalmologist will refer you to rheumatologist for treatment of systemic diseases. Your ophthalmologist may recommend surgical options of ocular conditions for treatment of dry eyes. Additionally, a change is lifestyle is highly recommended by the doctors to treat dry eyes. The benefits of consuming nutritious diet will reflect on your eyes.

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