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Eye DisordersDry Eye
- About Dry Eye
- Causes and symptoms
- How is it Diagnosed
- How is it Treated
- Medication and Care to be Taken
- Image Gallery
What is dry eye?
Normally, the eye constantly bathes itself in tears. By producing tears at a slow and steady rate, the eye stays moist and comfortable. It is like engine oil which lubricates the engine of a car.
Sometimes people do not produce enough tears or the appropriate quality of tears to keep their eyes healthy and comfortable. This condition is known as dry eye.
Symptoms of dry eye
The usual symptoms include:
- Stinging or burning eyes;
- Scratchiness; irritation;
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes;
- Excessive eye irritation from smoke or wind;
- Excess tearing; - Reflex
What is the tear film?
When you blink, a film of tears spreads over the eye, making the surface of the eye smooth and clear. Without this tear film, good vision would not be possible.
The tear film consists of three layers:
- An oily layer;
- A watery layer;
- A layer of mucus.
Each layer has its own purpose.
The oily layer, produced by the meibomian glands, forms the outermost surface of the tear film. Its main purpose is to smooth the tear surface and reduce evaporation of tears. The middle watery layer makes up most of what we ordinarily think of as tears. This layer, produced by the lacrimal gland, cleanses the eye and washes away foreign particles or irritants.
The inner layer consists of mucus produces by the conjunctiva. Mucus allows the watery layer to spread evenly over the surface of the eye and helps the eye remain moist.
Causes dry eye
Tear production normally decreases as we age. Although dry eye can occur in both men and women at any age, women are most often affected. This is especially true after menopause.
Dry eye can also be associated with other problems. For example, people with dry eyes, dry mouth, and arthritis are said to have Sjogren’s syndrome.
A wide variety of common medications—both prescription and over-the –counter—can cause dry eye by reducing tear secretion.People with dry eye are often more prone to the toxic side effects of eye medications, including artificial tears. For example, the preservatives in certain eyedrops and artificial tear preparations can irritate the eye. These people may need special preservative-free artificial tears.
How is dry eye diagnosed?
An ophthalmologist is usually able to diagnose dry eye by examining the eyes. Sometimes tests that measure tear production are necessary. One test, called the Schirmer tear test, involves placing filter-paper strips under the lower eyelids to measure the rate of tear production under various conditions.
ADDING TEARS substitute
Eyedrops called artificial tears are similar to your own tears. They lubricate the eyes and help maintain moisture.
Preservative-free eyedrops are available for people who are sensitive to the preservatives in artificial tears. If you need to use artificial tears more than every two hours, preservative-free brands may be better for you.
You can use the artificial tears as often as necessary-once or twice a day or as often as several times an hour. People working on computers for long time need more frequent drops due to the reduction in their blink rate by almost 50%.
CONSERVING YOUR TEARS
Conserving your eyes’ own tears is another approach to keeping the eyes moist. Tears drain out of the eye through a small channel into the nose (which is why your nose runs when you cry). Your ophthalmologists may close these channels either temporarily or permanently. The closure conserves your own tears and makes artificial tears last longer.
A person with dry eye should avoid anything that may cause dryness, such as an overly warm room, hair dryers, or wind. Smoking is especially bothersome.Some people with dry eye complain of “scratchy eyes” when they wake up. This symptom can be treated by using an artificial tear ointment or thick eyedrops at bedtime to maintain liberation and wetness overnight. Use the smallest amount of ointment can cause your vision to blur.