Dry eye occurs when there is insufficient lubrication in the eye, it is caused by an imbalance in the tear system. Some people do not produce enough lubricating tears to keep the eye protected. People with dry eyes experience discomfort in a variety of forms, like stinging and burning eyes, scratchiness and irritation.
What do tears do? Tears are a major protective agent for the eyes. They not only wash away dust from the eyes, they also soothe the eyes, provide oxygen and nutrients to the cornea, as well as help prevent eye infections. Tears are composed of different layers. The outer lipid layer consists of an oily film that prevents evaporation and keeps the eye lubricated. The middle or aqueous layer is secreted by the lacrimal gland and provides moisture and supplies oxygen and important nutrients to the cornea. The inner layer contains mucous that helps the tear film spread on the eye. Each layer is vital to the health of the eyes.
What can Cause Dry Eyes?
Dry Eyes can be caused by several factors. A common cause is aging. As we age we produce less productive tears. These tears evaporate faster. Women approaching menopause especially face dry eyes due to the increase in hormones. Working or entertainment can also cause dry eyes. People who watch TV, use the computer, or sew for period of time may have eyestrain and dry eyes. Dry eyes can also be caused by personal conditions and certain medications. Some medications, and some diseases may also lead to dry eyes.
Dry Eyes Symptoms
Discomfort in the eyes
Excessive tearing without relief
Foreign object sensation in the eyes
Discomfort after periods of watching tv, reading, computer use, sewing, etc.
Dry Eye Testing – Testing for dry eyes can be performed through several methods. Fluorescein eye drops may be used to determine tear production. These eye drops contain a dye that can be traced with a special blue light as it is washed out of the eyes by the tears.
Dry Eyes Treatment Options – Dry Eyes Treatments will vary depending on the level of dry eye syndrome. Most people use artificial tears, gels or ointments that simulate the action of tears. These eye drops can be used as artificial tears and can be used several times a day. However, they are not a permanent solution. Some adhere to the eyes and protect for long term, some with preservatives and others without. Another cure for dry eyes is punctal occlusion, by closing the tear drainage canals with silicone plugs. These plugs block the drainage of tears and keep them in the eyes longer. There are temporary and permanent plugs. They are painlessly inserted and can be removed by an ophthalmologist. Sealing of the drainage can also be done surgically. Recently a surgical procedure has been described to treat cases of severe dry eyes with transplantation of labial salivary glands to the inner side of the eyelids.