Dry Eyes Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome, commonly known as xerophthalmia, affects more than 100 million people around the world. People often visit ophthalmologists complaining of decreased vision, cataract or other eye-related infections, but are surprised to know that they suffer from dry eye syndrome. It is caused either due to inefficient tear production or excessive evaporation, leading to mild discomfort in the eyes, such as irritation, pain or swelling.
Its consequences range from subtle but constant irritation of the eyes leading to severe disturbance in your day-to-day activities. Dr Devesh Sharma, Cornea Expert, Amritsar Eye Clinic, throws light on things you should know about dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye syndrome can be caused due to a wide range of factors, such as imbalance in the composition of tears, inability to keep the eyes lubricated, medications and environmental factors. The common causes of dry eye syndrome include -
- Environment: Living in a dry, dusty or windy climate makes you more susceptible to dry eye syndrome.
- Age: One of the common causes of dry eye syndrome is the natural aging process. Also, it is quite common in women, especially during menopause.
- Medications: Another reason could be due to a side effect of medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medicines and birth control pills.
- Use of computer: Insufficient blinking, especially when you're staring at a computer screen all day is yet another cause of dry eye syndrome.
- Diseases: Dry eyes are also a symptom of systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea or Sjogren's syndrome.
- Contact lens: In some cases, long-term use of contact lens is found to cause dry eye syndrome.
- Eye conditions: Certain eye conditions may cause eyes to feel dry and scratchy such as blepharitis, an inflammation along the edge of the eyelids.
The common symptoms of dry eyes include:
- A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
- A feeling of a sand grain or some kind of obstruction in your eyes
- Strings of mucus in or around your eyes
- Suffering from eye fatigue, after short periods of reading
- Feeling better when eyes are closed
The dry eye syndrome can be easily diagnosed through a comprehensive examination of your eyes. This involves testing of your eyelids and cornea and measurement of the quantity and quality of tears for any abnormalities. Apart from this, external examination of the eyes and your clinical history is of great significance to determine the exact cause of the condition.
‘For most people who have dry eyes, it's a chronic condition. Goal of the treatment is to deal with the symptoms and lower their occurrence. The treatment usually begins with a careful examination of the eyes to determine the factors responsible for the symptoms and keep the eyes moist,’ says Dr Sharma. This can be achieved in a couple of ways:
Artificial tears: These are lubricating eye drops that reduce the dry, scratchy feeling of the eyes.
Preserving tears: This can be done by closing the tear ducts (partially or completely), which normally serve to drain tears away. The closure conserves both, natural and artificial tears that may have been added.
Medications: Dry eyes caused by problems with the meibomian glands or due to blepharitis generally respond to specific treatment.
Dr Sharma says, ‘If left untreated for a long period of time, it may lead to an increased risk of infection and visual impairment.’ Dry eye syndrome is considered to be a growing health concern in the world and hence, needs attention.
The risk of suffering from this disease increases with age. So, the number of people affected by dry eye syndrome is expected to increase in the coming years, thereby adversely affecting productivity.
The content has been verified by Dr Devesh Sharma, Cornea Expert, Amritsar Eye Clinic.
There are several simple homecare tips for patients suffering from dry eye syndrome Here are some simple and effective tips from our expert Dr Sharma:
Avoid direct air currents: People who are at a high risk of suffering from this condition should avoid direct contact of hair dryers, car heaters, air conditioners or fans with your eyes.
Wear protective glasses while going out: It is advisable to wear sunglasses or protective glasses to prevent dust particles from entering your eyes. Also, good quality sunglasses can protect your eyes from the harsh UV radiations.
Use home humidifiers: In winter, a humidifier can add moisture to dry indoor air. Some people use specially-designed glasses that form a moisture chamber around the eye, creating additional humidity.
Remember to blink: Make it a habit to blink consciously while working on computers. This will help in spreading ears more evenly, eventually hydrating the eyes.
Avoid rubbing your eyes: Rubbing the eyes only worsens the condition. Instead wash eyes with cold water, if itching or irritation is experienced.
The content has been verified by
Dr Devesh Sharma
, Cornea Expert, Amritsar Eye Clinic.