Dry Eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye, and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain into the back of the nose. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance.
Common Cause of Dry Eyes
A lack of tears, improper lubrication, or tears draining too quickly from the eye result in a common condition known as Dry Eye.
As we age, tear production decreases. Men and women of any age can be affected, however, after menopause and during pregnancy women are especially susceptible.
Wearing contact lenses often increases tear evaporation that can result in irritation, increased protein deposits, infection, and pain. Dry eye has been shown to be the leading cause of contact lens discomfort.
Exposure to various environments can reduce eye lubrication. These include sunny, dry or windy conditions; heaters, dehumidifiers, fans or air conditioning; sand, dust or pollen, smoke, high altitudes; work environment ond prolonged computer use.
A variety of medications reduce tear secretion. Some common examples are decongestants, antihistamines, sleeping pills, beta-blockers, antidepressants, diuretics, pain relievers and alcohol.
Auto Immune Disease
Auto Immune Disease accompanied by a dry mouth and dry eyes is called Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Surgical procedures can disrupt the production of tears or the balance between Constant and Reflex tears. Post-surgical dry eye is almost always temporary.
A patient with dry eye syndrome may experience a range of symptoms, including:
Some people find the pain very strong, and this can lead to frustration, anxiety, and difficulty functioning in daily life.
Complications may include a worsening of eye redness and light sensitivity, increasing painful eyes, and deterioration of eyesight.
A doctor will do a physical examination and ask the patient about symptoms, their medical history, any current medications, and about their occupation and personal circumstances.
Tests can reveal the quantity of tears behind the eyelid, whether the tear film is functioning properly, and the rate of evaporation.
Treatment aims to keep the eyes well lubricated, but the approach depends on the underlying cause.