What is Dry Eyes Diseases?
Dry eye disease is a common condition that occurs when your tears cannot provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Every time you blink, tears will spread throughout the front surface of your cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infections, clear out foreign objects from your eyes, and keep your eyes smooth and wet.
Tears can be inadequate and unstable for numerous reasons. For example, dry eyes may occur if you do not produce enough tears or have poor quality of tears. This tear instability causes inflammation and damage to the eye’s surface.
You will feel uncomfortable when you have dry eyes due to soreness or a burning sensation. You may experience dry eyes in certain situations, such as when you are on a plane, in an air-conditioned room, while riding a motorcycle, or spending a long time in front of a computer screen.
Dry eye treatment is necessary to make you more comfortable, which includes lifestyle changes and the use of eye drops. You may need to take these measures indefinitely to control the symptoms of dry eyes. Make an appointment with an ophthalmologist through Smarter Health for further examination.
Causes of Dry Eyes Disease
There are many causes that disrupt the healthy tear film. Your tear film consists of three layers: fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus. This combination usually keeps the eye surface of your eyes lubricated, smooth, and clear. Problems with one of these layers can lead to dry eyes.
Tear film dysfunction can occur due to hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases, inflammation of the eyelid glands, or eye allergies. For some people, decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation can also lead to dry eyes.
Decreased Tear Production
Common causes of decreased tear production may include:
- Corneal nerve desensitivity, which is caused by the use of contact lenses causing nerve damage, or laser eye surgery (LASIK).
- Certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and medications for high blood pressure.
- Certain medical conditions, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, graft versus host disease (GvHD), sarcoidosis, thyroid disorders, or vitamin A deficiency.
Increased tear evaporation
Common causes of increased tear evaporation may include:
- Vitamin A deficiency.
- Exposure to wind, smoke, or dry air.
- Posterior blefaritis, which is meibomian gland dysfunction
- Preservatives in topical eye drops (external use).
- Eyelid problems, such as the lids turning outward (ectropion) and the lids turning inward (entropion).
- Rarely blinking, which tends to occur in certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or when you concentrate during certain activities.
When to See a Doctor for Dry Eyes Disease
An ophthalmologist can diagnose dry eyes condition through a comprehensive eye exam. The test is performed to evaluate the quantity and quality of tears produced by your eyes. This test involves:
- Reviewing your medical history to determine symptoms and recording any general health problems, such as certain medications or environmental factors that may be contributing to dry eye disease.
- Measuring the quantity and quality of your tears
- Evaluating your eyelids and cornea using bright light and magnification.
- Performing external eye exam, including blinking and eyelid movements
Results from tests above can help your doctor determine if you have dry eyes and recommend treatment options based on your eye condition.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes Disease
Patients with dry eyes may experience eye irritation with the following symptoms:
- Watery eyes.
- Eye redness
- Blurred vision.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Stringy mucus around the eyes.
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses.
- Blurry vision or eye fatigue
- A sensation of having something in your eyes
- Trouble driving at night.
- Stinging, sore or burning sensation.
Consult your doctor if you experience prolonged dry eye symptoms, including eye redness, irritation, fatigue, or pain. Your doctor will identify the cause of dry eyes.
Treatment for Dry Eyes Disease
Your doctor may recommend the following treatment options for dry eyes, such as:
Mild dry eyes can usually be treated with an over-the-counter artificial tear solution to increase natural tear production. Preservative-free artificial tear solutions are more preferable as they contain less additives. Patients with dry eyes who do not react to artificial tears may be required to take additional steps to treat their dry eyes.
Reduce Tear Loss
Maintaining your tears for longer can reduce dry eye symptoms. This can be done by blocking your tears from coming out. The tear ducts can be closed with a small silicone or plugged with a gel-like material that can be removed if necessary. A surgery may be required to permanently close the tear ducts.
Increase Tear Production
Your doctor may prescribe eye drops to increase tear production. Consumption of omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements can also help reduce dry eye symptoms.
Treatment for Eyelid Inflammation
The next treatment option can be done by treating inflammation of the eyelids or other affected surface of the eye. Your doctor may recommend eye drops or ointment, warm compresses, eyelid massage, or eyelid cleansing to help reduce inflammation on the surface of your eyes.
Treatment Cost for Dry Eyes Disease
Treatment cost for dry eyes will depend on the method of treatment recommended by your doctor. To calculate the estimated treatment cost for dry eyes at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Dry Eyes Disease
Below are some steps that you can take to prevent dry eyes:
- Avoid air blowing directly into your eyes.
- Increase humidity at work and at home.
- Blink regularly if you are reading or staring at the computer screen for a long time.
- Drink plenty of water – about 8 to 10 glasses daily to prevent dehydration.
- Be aware of your environment – the air in desert areas, at high altitudes, or airplanes can cause dry eyes
- Wear sunglasses outdoors to reduce exposure to wind and sunlight that put you at risk of dry eyes
- Consume nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids to reduce dry eye symptoms. Be sure to consult your doctor before consuming the supplement.
Home Remedies for Dry Eyes
The following are several home care tips to treat dry eyes, such as:
Apply Warm Compress
Your tears are made of oil, water, and mucus. Inflamed, scaly eyelids can clog the oil-producing glands around the edge of the eyelids and cause dry eyes. To overcome this condition, you can apply warm compress around your eyes.
Keep Your Eyelids Clean
Keeping your eyelids and its surrounding areas clean can help control eyelid inflammation. Apply a little bit of baby shampoo or soap and gently massage your eyelids with your fingertips.
Be Sure to Blink
Sometimes, you forget to blink when you spend a long time sitting in front of your computer screen. Try to blink frequently and follow the 20-20 rule – close your eyes every 20 minutes for 20 seconds to prevent dry eyes.
Meet Your Daily Fluid Needs
You need adequate fluids intake to stay healthy. Drinking lots of water can help keep your eyes smooth and wet. You should not wait until you are thirsty to drink water. Doing so can help keep yourself well-hydrated.
Sunglasses can help protect your eyes from exposure to wind, which causes tears to evaporate and dry out more quickly. Also avoid blowing air from a hair dryer, air conditioner, or fan into your eyes.
Have more questions about dry eyes disease? Write them down in the comment section below or make an appointment with an ophthalmologist at home and abroad through Smarter Health.