What are Dry Eyes?

Tears nourish, protect and lubricate the outer surface of your eyes. In the dry eyes syndrome, your eyes aren’t able to provide adequate moisture either because of poor quality or insufficient tears.The three components of a tear film are. oil, mucus and water.

What causes Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes are caused by

  • Poor quality of tears: Due to imbalance in the any of the three components of a tear film viz. oil, mucus or water.
  • Less quantity of tears: This is the most common cause of dry eyes. It is usually seen in ages above 50 years: Tear production decreases as part of the natural aging process.
  • Postmenopausal Women: Hormonal changes may be the cause.
  • Diseases like: Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Thyroid Diseases and Vitamin A Deficiency.
  • Damage to your tear glands: Radiation or Inflammation can damage your glands and reduce your tears.
  • Eyelid Disorders: Entropion (In-turning of eyelids) or Ectropion (Out-ward turning of eyelids), Stroke or Bell’s Palsy which causes a difficulty in blinking may affect you. These hamper the adequate distribution of the tear film causing dry eyes.
  • Drugs: Certain medications like some blood pressure, anti-allergy, birth control pills, anti-depressant medicines also lead to dry eyes.
  • Apart from the above, wind, dry climate, high altitudes and continuous staring at the computer, TV or books also causes dry eyes

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eyes

  • Stinging or burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
  • Mucus in or around your eyes
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision which worsens towards evening or after prolonged periods
  • Fatigue in your eyes even after short spells of reading
  • Intermittent reflex excessive tearing

How are Dry Eyes treated?

  • Medications : Antibiotics or steroids to decrease the inflammation and eye inserts that release artificial tears may be prescribed. Over the counter artificial eye drops and ointments can be used in mild cases.
  • Plugging tear ducts : Tear ducts may be plugged to prevent your tears from leaving your eyes too quickly. Silicone plugs or thermal cautery may be used to do this. This may be temporary or permanent.
  • Helping you close your eyelids : This is done by Lateral Tarsorrhaphy in which the outer one third of your eyelids are sewn together.
  • Special contact lenses: Certain contact lenses help form a shield over your eye and trap the moisture in. These are called corneal shields or bandage lenses.

What are the complications of Dry Eyes?

  • Increased risk of eye infections due to the lost protective cover of the tear film
  • Inflammation leading to corneal scarring, ulcers and vision problems

How can I prevent Dry Eyes?

  • Use eye glass shields at the top and sides of your glasses to block wind and dry air in case of situations like windy days and while swimming (to protect against chemicals).
  • Quit smoking
  • Use humidifiers to dampen dry indoor air in winters
  • Avoid directing hair dryers, air conditioners, fans or car heaters in your eyes
  • Take regular eye breaks during long reading tasks or while using the computers
  • Position your computer screen below your eye level so that you avoid opening your eyes too wide. This will help slow your tear evaporation rate
  • Include Flax seeds, Spinach and Walnut in your diet, they are good source for omega three fatty acids.
  • Drink plenty of water

At Rushabh Eye Hospital, we offer a complete dry eye evaluation and systematic management of the same.