Patient Education

What is Dry Eye?

Tears keep the surface of the eyes wet, clean, and protect eyes from infections. Tears also provide constant moisture and lubrication to maintain the vision and comfort to the eyes. If your eyes do not produce enough tears or if the tears dry up too quickly, the condition is termed as Dry Eye.

What causes Dry Eye?

Dry eye may be temporary or a chronic condition.
Different causes for dry eye are as follow:

1. Dry, dusty or windy climate and air conditioning can also result in increased tear evaporation, resulting in dry eye.
2. Long term use of contact lens can also result in dry eye.
3. Infrequent blinking associated with staring at computer or video screens may also lead to dry eye symptoms.
4. Skin disease on or around the eyelids can result in dry eye.
5. Dry eye can also develop after the refractive surgery known as LASIK. However, these symptoms generally last 3-6 months, but may last longer in some cases
6. Diseases of the glands in the eyelids can cause dry eye.
7. Certain immune system disorders and chronic inflammation of conjunctiva, the membrane lining the eyelid and covering the front part of the eye, or the tear-producing gland can also result in dry eye.
8. Dry eye can occur during menopause as a part of the ageing process.
9. Dry eye can be a side effect of some medications such as antihistamines, birth control pills, antidepressants, nasal decongestants, and certain blood pressure medicines.
What are the symptoms of Dry Eye? 1, 3

Symptoms may include any of the following:

1. Itching
2. Stinging or burning of the eye
3. Sensation of something in the eye
4. Pain and redness such as ‘blood shot’ eyes
5. Discharge of mucous
6. Blurred vision
7. Eye fatigue

How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

Slit lamp exam: It examines the eye surface under high magnification.
Schirmer’s tear test: Doctor’s place a tiny strip of paper on the edge of the lower eyelids.
It measures moisture content in the eye and determines the severity of the problem.
A dye, such as fluorescein or rose Bengal is placed on the eye to stain the surface. This can measure whether the surface of the eye is affected by dryness or not.

What is the treatment for Dry Eye?

Numerous treatment strategies exist to battle the signs and symptoms associated with dry eye. Some of them include:
1. Blinking exercise of the eye
2. Cleansing the eyelids with application of warm compress
3. Using artificial tears, gels, lubricating drops, and ointments
4. Wearing glasses that have side shields which can help to slow tear evaporation from the eye surfaces
5. Avoiding smoke, dust, air-conditioners, and heaters
6. Increasing humidity in your surrounding by using a dish containing water on a window still or radiator
7. Plugging the drainage holes, small circular openings at the inner corners of the eyelids where tears drain from the eye into the nose
8. Increasing water intake
9. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine
10. Increasing diet intake rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids as it reduces ocular surface inflammation and improves dry eye symptoms
11. Lowering the computer screen to below eye level
12. Taking regular breaks and blinking frequently during sessions in front of the computer

Treatment for dry eye is very important. If you neglect the condition, complications such as scarring of your cornea, the transparent layer at the front of the eye, and inflammation or infection of your eye can occur, affecting your eyesight permanently.

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