Dry eye syndrome is defined as the poor production of tears by the tear glands. There is chronic lack of moisture in the affected eye. If not treated, it can lead to diminished vision and even eye infections.
Remember that tears are vital in maintaining healthy eyes. The tears are comprised of compounds that keep the eyes clean and moist. If too few tears are produced or have an altered chemical composition, the signs of dry eye syndrome might manifest.
What are the signs?
The signs of dry eye syndrome might vary from one individual to another. Some might experience more symptoms than others.
The usual signs that have been reported for dry eye syndrome include:
- Dry, itchy eyes
- Eye redness
- Stinging of burning sensation in the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Sensation of a foreign body
- Excessive tearing
- Increased discomfort after reading or watching TV
What are the possible causes?
Some of the usual causes of dry eye syndrome include the following:
- Certain medications – some drugs reduce the production of tears
- Hormonal alterations – pregnancy, aging, menstruation and menopause can lead to altered hormones, resulting to changes in the tears
- Wearing contact lenses – the lenses tend to absorb the tear film
- Medical ailments – systemic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome can lead to dryness of the eyes.
- Environmental factors – windy, dry climates as well as cigarette smoking, and air conditioning can lead to dry eyes
- Computer use – not able to blink while using a computer can lead to dryness. Based on studies, the normal blink rate is reduced when working on a computer.
- Chemical eye burns – sustaining a chemical burn in the eye can lead to the disruption of the normal cell reproduction on the cornea, thus leading to surface irregularities and the signs of dry eye
Management of dry eye syndrome
Remember that there is no available cure for dry eye syndrome. Nevertheless, several treatment options are available to manage the symptoms.
The commonly used treatment options for dry eye syndrome include:
- Artificial tear eye drops – these are available over-the-counter which mimic the tears. They work by lubricating the eye to lessen the symptoms. The composition of the artificial tears tends to vary depending on the type of dry eye.
- Ointments and gels – these are the same as the artificial tears but tends to last longer. Most are generally thicker and can cause blurred vision if used. Due to this, they are ideally used at night time.
- Immunomodulatory drugs – these drugs are prescribed by the doctor which changes the local immune response around the tear glands. Generally, they increase the production of tears.
- Punctal plugs – the doctor might insert silicone plugs into the tear ducts to prevent tears from draining out. This enables the natural tears to lubricate the eye surface.
- Eye masks – when a mask is used over the eye, it prevents air from ceiling fans to worsen the symptoms.
- Corticosteroids – these eye drops work by reducing the inflammation