Dry eyes

What causes dry eyes?

Caused for dry eyes is a lack of tear production. Tears normally keep the eyes moistened and lubricated. However, stinging, burning, dryness, and redness will result if enough tears are not produced to keep the eyes wet and comfortable. While discomfort is the primary result of the condition, infection and corneal scarring may occur if left untreated.

What is tear film?

Tears run from our eyes when we cry or when our eyes are irritated. But tears have a much more important everyday function. A film of tears spread over the eye by a blink makes the surface of the eye smooth and optically clear. Our tear film is very important for good vision. The tear film consists of three layers. The oily layer smoothes the tear surface and reduces evaporation of tears. The watery layer cleanses the eyes and washes away any foreign particles or irritation. The innermost layer, consisting of mucus, allows the watery layer to spread evenly over the surface of the eye and helps the eye to remain wet.

What are the symptoms?

Patients with dry eye often complain that their eyes feel gritty, itchy, and dry. Other common symptoms include burning, stinging, redness, stringy mucus, and sensitivity to light. Patients may experience their eyelids sticking together in the morning. Patients may also have difficulty wearing contact lenses, which normally float on top of the tear film. If not enough tear film is produced, irritation and redness may result from the contact lens rubbing against the surface of the eye. Surprisingly, watering of the eyes is also a symptom of the condition, as excess tears are produced in response to irritation. However, these excess tears are ”crying tears” which consist mostly of water. The excess tears lack the oil necessary to keep them from evaporating and, therefore, do not function to lubricate the eye.

How are eyes dryness diagnosed?

Often a simple eye examination is all that is required to detect it. Sometimes tests that measure tear production may be necessary. Commonly used test, the Schirmer tear test, involves placing filter-paper strips under the lower eyelids to measure the rate of tear production under various conditions.

How to cure dry eyes?

The use of artificial tears is the most common basis of treatment. Artificial tears are available without a prescription and are used as eye drops to lubricate the eyes and replace the missing moisture. The tears may be used as often as necessary, only once or twice a day, or as often as several times an hour. After bathing the eye’s surface, tears enter a small opening in each lid, the punctum, and drain through a small canal into the lacrimal sac and down a duct into the nose. These channels may be closed temporarily or permanently by your doctor. The closure can create a reservoir of tears, which allows the eyes to stay moist for longer periods of time. Some patients may also find preventing the evaporation of their tears beneficial. If artificial tears alone fail to provide sufficient relief, soft contact lenses may be used to keep moisture on the surface of the eye. Soft contact lenses have a tendency to absorb water and other fluids and act as a bandage that protects the cornea. When used to treat the eye, soft contact lenses trap artificial tears and medicine drops on the surface of the eye, thus providing needed moisture and lubrication. Anything that adds to dryness such as an overly warm room, air condition, windy days, or anything that adds an irritant to the air will make a person with eyes dryness more uncomfortable. Smoking also is cause for the condition. Some people with it complain of ”scratchy eyes” upon awakening. This symptom can be treated by using an ointment at bedtime. Use the smallest amount of ointment necessary for comfort, because the ointment can cause temporary blurring of vision. A person suffering from eyes dryness may only need over-the-counter artificial tears, but since extreme dryness can cause serious damage to the eye. Recommended an examination and consulting by ophthalmologist.

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