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.
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 from 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.
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.
If precautionary methods are not followed to prevent Dry eyes, people would also develop eye infections. In case of untreated dry eyes, as severity and duration of dry eyes increase, patients might develop damage to corneal surface (abrasion), corneal ulcer and serious vision problems.
Prevention is better than cure. Get your eyes checked for dry eyes and get them treated appropriately.