Dry Eyes

introduction

Dry Eyes – The facts

On a summer day, on an average, people might be spending around 14 to 16 hours per day in an air-conditioned room, at work or at home to escape the heat outside and some of them might feel  dryness, irritation, stickiness, itching, burning and watering from the eyes. They may be developing  a problem which is  termed as the “Dry eye”, ‘Dry Eye Syndrome’ medically.

 

Why Dry Eyes?

Adequate quality and quantity of tears in the eyes is essential for smooth feeling and functioning of the eyes.

The dry eye syndrome is the change in quality or quantity of the three layers of the tear film – Oily (exterior), water/aqueous layer (middle) and protein (inner).

Commonest cause of dry eyes are the air conditioners. The artificial air and temperature change caused by the air conditioners can cause changes and effect  the  largest organ of the body- the skin to the immune system, to the most delicate organ the eyes. The extreme loss of humidity and resultant dryness in the air  around us especially in low temperature settings in AC, causes more evaporation from the watery layer of tear film , causing evaporative dry eyes and subsequently, long term exposure to such AC  can also alter the lipid production from glands in the eyelids causing both change in quality and quantity of tear film and hence dry eyes. 

The tears have antimicrobial functions and in dry eyes, when there is no adequate lubrication, the eyes are also more vulnerable to inflammation and infections which could lead to decrease in vision.

Causes of Dry Eye: What are the Reasons for Dry Eyes?

The other important causes of dry eye disease are:

  • Prolonged staring/usage of computer/mobile phones (Computer Vision Syndrome).
  • The natural aging process, especially menopause problems and hence women are more affected by dry eyes .
  • Certain medical conditions including diabetes, thyroid disorders and Vitamin A deficiency
  • Side effects of certain drugs like antihistamines can also be a cause of dry eye.
  • Laser eye surgery, though symptoms of dry eyes related to this procedure are usually temporary.
  • Tear gland damage from inflammation or radiation
  • Diseases that affect your ability to make tears, like Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases
  • Problems that don’t allow your eyelids to close the way they should.
  • Air pollution -people in metros like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are  few times more likely to be diagnosed with dry eye syndrome than the other towns with relatively little air pollution. 

 

Major symptoms of dry eye disease:

Symptoms of dry eyes and dry eye syndrome can be Burning ,dryness ,grittiness, Itchiness, Aching sensations, Heaviness , watering from the eyes and blurred vision. The reading speed can slow down for dry eyes and the rate decreases as the severity increases.

 

Tips to Prevent Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome:

Below we have mentioned some of the many dry eye solutions like:

  • Try to minimize and decrease the number of hours of using air-conditioned rooms, setting of AC temperature around 23 degree C and above is recommended.
  • Avoid sitting with your face facing air conditioners, thereby preventing eyes from being directly exposed to air from air-conditioners.
  • Place a small open bowl of fresh water in the corner of the room you sit with the air conditioner to maintain the humidity of the room, thereby preventing dry skin and dry eyes. So far, this has proven to be one of the best dry eye remedies.
  • Another dry eyes home remedy is to drink enough liquids can also help prevent dry eye syndrome.
  • Frequent conscious blinking when using computer or mobile phones which will help in the appropriate distribution of tear film. 
  • Have a traditional 7 – 8 hours of sleep, which will give adequate rest to the eyes.
  • Consider wearing sunglasses or protective eye wear.
  • Reach out to your eye doctor to diagnose the cause of your dry eyes, and follow recommendations and prescriptions from the Eye doctor on eye medications like lubricants, and /or antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory eye drops and other in-office procedures which could help your body create and secrete more tears and better quality of tears and to decrease eye irritation and inflammation.

If precautionary methods are not followed to prevent symptoms of dry eye syndrome, people will also develop eye infections. In the case of untreated, dry eyes, as the severity and duration of dry eyes increase, patients might develop damage to the corneal surface (abrasion), corneal ulcer and serious vision problems.

Prevention is better than cure. Get your eyes checked for dry eyes syndrome and get them treated appropriately.

FAQ

What are some of the best dry eye treatments?

As mentioned above, in most cases, dry eye solutions can come about by making alterations in one’s daily lifestyle and habits. However, if the situation is chronic, causing elongated discomfort, it is best to seek a professional dry eye treatment from a reputed eye hospital. Here is a glimpse into some of the many dry eye treatments/medicines to receive quick and impactful results:

 

  • Prescription Eye Drops:

These eye drops carry immune-suppressing medications like Ikervis, Restasis, Xiidra, Cequa, and more. They are useful in reducing the inflammation of the cornea. However, unlike dry eyes artificial tears, these medicines need a proper prescription.

 

  • Cholinergic Drugs:

These drugs can be used to stimulate tears by accelerating tear production. One of the biggest drawbacks of this drug is that it might lead to side effects which has limited its use.

 

  • Eyelid Wash

In the medical industry, eyelid washes are also advised for conditions called Blepharitis or Anterior Blepharitis. It can effectively reduce eye inflammation in a short span of time by lowering the quantity of bacteria present around eyelashes and eyelids.

 

  • Eye Ointments

Not just for dry eyes, eye ointments can also treat sore eyes or a gap between your eye lids (Lagophthalmos) which often leads to dryness and exposure.

 

  • Blood Serum Drops

These are eye drops made of plasma and blood serum. In ophthalmology, this is often considered if other treatments, options, and remedies are not showing results. Basically, blood is mixed with sterile saline to treat all the symptoms of dry eyes.

There are several ways to correct vision, like undergoing laser eye surgery, eyeglasses, contact lenses, etc. Amongst all these options, contact lenses come in direct contact with the eyes, which in many cases can cause problems like discomfort, redness, irritation and more.

 

In the same context, it has been proven that contact lenses can also be one of the many reasons for dry eyes. In some cases, if the tear volume is not enough, it leads to the thinning of the post-lens tear film, which causes friction between the conjunctival surface/cornea and the contact lens. Therefore, the increased sense of friction between the ocular surface and the contact lens can cause dry eye syndrome.

 

In most cases, symptoms of dry eyes lower and diminish on their own if the right measures are taken at the right time, like drinking enough water, avoiding air conditioners, avoiding overstraining your eyes, and more. After all, if the discomfort from symptoms of dry eyes remains, then it’s best to seek professional medical help.

Usually, external factors aggravate symptoms of dry eyes, which include conditions like exposure to air conditioners, prolonged computer use, allergens, dust, heat and more. On the other hand, symptoms of dry eye disease should not be mixed with eye allergies or other eye problems.

Below we have mentioned some natural ways to treat symptoms of dry eyes like:

 

  • By using a humidifier
  • Wearing sunglasses in sunlight
  • Using a warm and damp cloth to soothe eye irritation
  • Taking nutritional supplements that contain fatty acids
  • Avoiding harsh cleansers and face washes around the eye area
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