Dry eye syndrome is a common health condition affecting millions of people. It is caused when your body cannot produce enough tears, so your eyes cannot make adequate lubrication. Dry eyes feel uncomfortable. You may feel discomfort and irritation in your eyes. Dry eye disease may occur if you produce insufficient tears or poor-quality tears, causing inflammation and damage to the eye’s surface. Eye drops may be used to help control dry eyes caused by this condition. You may also have itching, stinging, and burning in your eyes, although this tends to get better with age. Treatments for dry eyes are available that help you feel more comfortable and may ensure you do not damage the surface of your eyes.
When your eyes are dry, you might notice a gritty feeling, Itching, Redness, Blurry vision, and Light sensitivity. Even when you are happy, your eyes are full of tears. Tears are not just for wiping your eyes. They provide moisture and lubrication to help you see and keep your peepers comfortable. What is in a tear? They are a mix of Water, for moisture, Oils, for lubrication, Mucus, for even spreading, and special proteins that keep infection at bay. The ingredients come from special glands around your eye. Dry eyes often mean your tear system is out of order. When tears do not provide enough moisture to keep them healthy and supple, they might go bad and cause irritation or infection. When your eyes are dry and irritated, they can produce too many tears. This is called reflex tearing because the lack of moisture irritates your eye and sends it a distress signal. Your body then floods with tears to try to lubricate the eye’s surface and make up for the dryness. It is like what happens when you get sand in your eye and it runs down your cheek or runs into your nose. But these tears are mostly watery so they do not act like normal tears. They can wash debris away, but they will not coat your eye’s surface well. A dry eye can be caused by a variety of factors, including environmental conditions such as wind, weather, food, and medication. If left untreated, dry eye can cause blurred vision and can lead to other complications like double vision, red eyes, and even infection. To manage dry eye effectively and prevent future complications, it is important to identify the underlying causes and find relief methods that work.
Symptoms For Dry Eyes
There are a lot of signs and symptoms which can tell a person that he or she has dry eyes such as:
- A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in your eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye redness
- A sensation of having something in your eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Difficulty with nighttime driving
- Watery eyes, which is the body’s response to the irritation of dry eyes
- Blurred vision or eye fatigue
When To See A Doctor
Dry eyes are common, but if you have prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eyes, then you may be suffering from a more serious condition. Dry, itchy eyes are often a sign of underlying health conditions. If you think you have dry eye, see your healthcare provider for more information and treatment options. Your healthcare provider can perform a thorough eye examination and tell you whether you have dry eyes. If you are having any prolonged signs or symptoms of dry eyes, your provider may refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) for further assessment.
Causes For Dry Eyes
Dry eyes are a common problem that affects millions of patients. Dry eyes can be caused by a variety of reasons, but the flow is disrupted through one or more of three layers: Skin, mucus, and aqueous fluid. Normally, these three layers keep your surface smooth, clear, and lubricated. If you have dry eyes, the barrier between them is compromised – whether due to a problem in your tear film, increased tear evaporation, or due to inflammation in the eyelids or nose. Researchers have identified many causes and treatments for dry eyes, but so far there has not been a way to diagnose the underlying problem. For this reason, the best way to treat is by determining whether your problem is related to a specific cause or simply due to normal aging or other health problems. Various causes for dry eyes include:
- The natural aging process, especially menopause
- Side effects of certain drugs like antihistamines
- Diseases that affect your ability to make tears, like Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases
- Problems that do not allow your eyelids to close the way they should
The causes can depend on two conditions of a person which are:
- Decreased tear production: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a dry eye condition that affects millions of people. It can be caused by many different conditions and conditions, but it is typically related to a decreased production of tears in the eyes. There are treatments for this condition available, including prescription eye drops and artificial tears. Dry eyes can occur when you are unable to produce enough liquid tears, also called aqueous fluid. Common causes of decreased tear production include:
- Certain medical conditions including Sjogren’s syndrome, allergic eye disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, graft vs. host disease, sarcoidosis, thyroid disorders, or vitamin A deficiency
- Certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and medicines for high blood pressure, acne, birth control, and Parkinson’s disease
- Corneal nerve de-sensitivity caused by contact lens use, nerve damage, or laser eye surgery, though symptoms of dry eyes related to this procedure are usually temporary
- Increased tear production: Blocked meibomian glands, which are oil glands on the edge of your eyelids, might become clogged. The oil produced by these glands helps keep tears flowing easily and helps keep the eyeball surface lubricated. In some people with rosacea or other skin disorders, this can block the flow of oil out of the gland. This can lead to it becoming clogged and contributing to increased tear evaporation. A common cause of increased tear production:
- Posterior blepharitis (meibomian gland dysfunction)
- Blinking less often, which tends to occur with certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease; or when you are concentrating during certain activities, such as while reading, driving, or working at a computer
- Eyelid problems, such as the lids turning outward (ectropion) and the lids turning inward (entropion)
- Eye allergies
- Preservatives in topical eye drops
- Wind, smoke, or dry air
- Vitamin A deficiency
How Can We + Dry Eyes?
There are various options that can be used to treat dry eyes:
- Artificial tear drops and ointments: Many drops are available over the counter. Many drops can help you keep your eyes healthy, but you will have to try a few different products to find the one that works for you. If your eyes start to burn or sting if they feel dry, try using an eye drop that has more medicine in it, like corticosteroid eye drops. Sometimes these medicines may cause some dryness or inflammation at first, so they will not be a good treatment option if you already have dry eyes. Otherwise, choose a thinner drop that works best for your lifestyle.
- Temporary punctal occlusion: Sometimes a temporary plug is all that your doctor sees fit to prescribe. In this case, your doctor will recommend a temporary plug to dissolve over time. Based on how it works, your doctor will know whether permanent plugs will help.
- Non-dissolving punctual plugs and punctual occlusion by cautery (application of heat to tear exit duct): If a temporary plug works well, your doctor may try a procedure called cautery, which seals off tears from the nose. Your eyes might get better even with this treatment. Or your doctor could use another method for making a permanent plug. Wearing the plugs may want to wear eyeglasses or prescription sunglasses. They are easy to take out when you begin to feel better, but some people find that they fall into place on their own or may need help. A frequent problem is leaking tears down the drain of your nose toward your mouth – another reason you may need to change those plugs regularly.
- Lipiflow: The device enables patients to manually clean their eyelids and unblock the glands that are responsible for producing the oil in their tears. The equipment is manual and therapeutic means to prevent drying out of your eye.
- Testosterone cream: You may have a dry eye that is related to a lack of testosterone in the oil glands on your eyelids. Doctors can give you a testosterone cream to apply to your eyelid. It can help your oil glands work better and relieve dryness.
Preventions For Dry Eyes
If you experience dry eyes, there are several things you can do to avoid having constant symptoms. First, find ways to avoid the situations that are most likely to cause your dry eyes:
- Avoid air blowing in your eyes
- Add moisture to the air
- Consider wearing wraparound sunglasses or other protective eyewear
- Take eye breaks during long tasks
- Be aware of your environment
- Position your computer screen below eye level
- Stop smoking and avoid smoke
- Use artificial tears regularly
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