Dry Eyes: It could way more prevalent than you might think.



Overview

Dry eye syndrome is a common chief complaint seen in eye clinics. Patients with this condition deal with insufficient production of tears to coat the eyes or poor quality of tears. Consequently, they are prone to developing bacterial infections and recurrent inflammation.

While dry eyes affect millions of people, it seldom leads to permanent vision loss.

In this article, we will briefly cover the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for dry eyes.


Causes of dry eyes

In general, tears have three layers:

· An outer layer (oil)

· A middle layer (water)

· An inner layer (mucus)


If any of the glands that secrete water, oil, or mucus get inflamed, the process of tear production gets compromised, and you start dealing with dry eye syndrome.

Most commonly, the glands that produce oil (i.e., meibomian glands) become inflamed, leading to a condition known as a chalazion. As a result, tears will vaporize quickly, which precipitate dry eyes.


Risk factors that cause dry eyes include:

· Aging

· Contact lenses

· Not blinking enough

· Hormone replacement therapy

· Prolonged exposure to wind or dry air

· Staring at the computer for too long

· Allergies

· Certain medications (e.g., antihistamines, nasal decongestants)


Symptoms of dry eyes

The most common symptoms of dry eyes include:

· Burning

· Redness

· Pain

· Watery tearing

· Blurry vision

· Sensing sand in your eyes

· Difficulty sitting in front of a computer for long periods


Treatment of dry eyes

Depending on the underlying cause, treatment options for dry eyes vary and include:

· Artificial tears

· Lacrimal plugs

· Medications (e.g., cyclosporine, corticosteroid, pilocarpine)

· Surgery

There are some evidences suggesting taking an omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplement may also help.


Takeaway message

Dry eye syndrome has a variety of causes that range from completely benign to very serious conditions. Advanced dry eyes may damage the front surface of the eye and even impair impair vision. A comprehensive eye exam can be done to diagnose dry eyes. The test mainly focuses on assessing the quality and quantity of tears as well as to evaluate the potential source contributing to this problem.


Learn more about other eye conditions by clicking on this link.

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