Caused by a lack of lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that calls for a visit to the ophthalmologist.
Even when you are happy, the outer surfaces of your eyes are continuously bathed by a layer of tears. Apart from keeping the eyeball wet, tears also protect your eyes from infection and assist in the healing of surface wounds.
When the quality and/or quantity of tears are abnormal, this can lead to damage of the outer eye surface, irritation of the eyes or visual disturbances. Dry Eye Syndrome, or DES, is associated with many symptoms, including:
- Stinging or burning sensation
- Sandy or gritty feeling in the eye
- Episodes of excess tears following very dry eye periods
- A stringy discharge from the eye
- Pain and redness of the eye
- Blurred vision
- Heavy eyelids
- Contact lens discomfort
- Decreased tolerance for reading, working on the computer or any activity that requires sustained visual attention
- Eye fatigue
WHY YOUR EYES GET DRY
- Skin disease on or around the eyelids or diseases of the glands in the eyelids
- Long-term use of contact lenses are possible reasons
- The side effect of cataract surgery and LASIK or PRK surgery
- Certain medications like antihistamines, beta-blockers, and some antidepressants may affect tear production
- Gazing at the computer for long periods of time can give rise to problems, as you are less likely to blink when your eyes are fixed on the screen. Blinking restores the tear film and protects eyes from particles in the air and dead cells.
To determine whether you have DES, go for a comprehensive eye exam that measures both the volume and quality of your tears. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment can be tailored according to the cause.
Managing your condition
- Artificial tears, gels and ointments can be used to replace naturally produced tears.
- Eye drops may also be applied to ease inflammation.
- Supplements or increasing dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA and EPA) can help reduce irritation.
- When you are outdoors, wear glasses or sunglasses that fit close to the face (wrap-around shades) or have side shields to help inhibit tear evaporation from the surface of your eyes.
- When swimming, put on goggles to prevent your eyes from coming into contact with chlorine.
- While indoors, use an air purifier to filter dust and other particles. You can also install a humidifier, which increases moisture in the air.
- If you notice your eyes becoming dry while reading, watching TV, or using other digital devices, take frequent breaks to allow your eyes to rest and moisten.
In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe:
- Dry eye medications, including anti-inflammatory medication (such as Cyclosporine and Corticosteroid eye drops), may be necessary in more severe cases. Not A Dry Eye In The HousePunctal plugs made of silicone or collagen may be inserted by the eye doctor to partially or completely plug the tear ducts at the inner corners of the eye to keep tears from draining from the eye.
- Surgical closure of the drainage ducts by thermal punctal cautery may be required to close the tear ducts permanently.