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What are Dry Eyes? Its Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Category : 
Author : Dr Deepak Garg

Introduction

Dry eyes are a frequent eye condition where our natural tears are insufficient to moisten our eyes. It can make the eyes feel irritated and can lead to vision difficulties. There is presently no perfect remedy for dry eyes; however, several strategies exist for managing and reducing the symptoms.

What are Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes is a very frequently encountered eye condition today.  Covid has significantly increased the prevalence of dry eyes. It's a frequent problem that arises when the fluids cannot keep your eyes lubricated enough. Tears may be insufficient and unstable for a variety of reasons. Dry eyes might occur if the lacrimal glands don't generate enough tears or if the tears produced are of low quality. Inflammation and injury to the eye's epithelium result from this tear instability.

It's unpleasant to have dry eyes. Your eyes may itch or flare up if you have dry eyes. Dry eyes can occur within office places, in an air-conditioned room, when cycling to work, or after a few hours of staring at a laptop screen.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

The following are the most prevalent symptoms of dry eye syndrome:

  • Burning
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Watering

Other common signs and symptoms are:

  • Difficulty in seeing or working with the computer for long stretches
  • Stringy mucous
  • Eyes grow fatigued quicker than they used to
  • Blurry sight
  • Feeling as if you had dust in your eyes

Many people who suffer from dry eyes state that their eyes are heavy.

Causes of Dry Eye

The tear glands that generate tears typically keep the eyes moist. These tears are spread over the surface of the eye with each blink. Excess fluid drains through the lacrimal duct into the nose. The tear film comprises three layers, fatty oils, aqueous, and mucus. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eyes. 

Dry eyes can occur because of a variety of reasons. These include

  • Decreased blinking: happens when we use the screens and gadgets for prolonged periods.
  • Spending a lot of time in a dry environment like an air-conditioned office space or flights.
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction is an eyelid disease in which the oil glands near the eyelid margins get infected or inflamed. They thus become clogged or blocked and is very commonly seen. This may also be seen in people with rosacea or other skin disorders.
  • Allergic eye disease
  • Chronic Contact Lens use which leads to corneal nerve desensitivity
  • Age: Increasing age increases the risk of dry eyes because of decreased tear production
  • Environmental factors like pollution or cold, dry weather

Other causes could be

  • Hormonal changes
  • Autoimmune diseases like Sjogren's syndrome, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, sarcoidosis, or graft vs host disease
  • Ectropion: An eyelid condition in which the eyelids turn outward which reduces the flow of tears from the eyes disturbing the tear film
  • Entropion: An eyelid condition in which the eyelids turn inwards and eyelashes disturb the tear film
  • Deficiency in vitamin A or omega-3 fatty acids
  • Prolonged exposure to a draft of air like rising a bike or sitting under the breeze of an AC.
  • After undergoing LASIK Surgery
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Certain medications can cause dry eyes like an
  • Certain medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and drugs for high blood pressure, acne, birth control, and Parkinson's disease
  • Increased use of eye drops for other eye conditions can also lead to dry eyes
  • Any eye surgery causes inflammation and disturbs the tear film leading to dry eyes.
  • Smoking
  • Vit A deficiency

Diagnosis of Dry Eyes

A doctor may conduct a comprehensive eye check-up as part of his examination for a dry eye condition. Afterwards, the doctor will instil eye drops and then examine your eyes.

  • Slit-lamp test: In this examination, the physician will use microscopes to check the surface of the eye and effects of dry eyes, if any
  • Schirmer's test: The doctor will evaluate how wet the eyes are with a single piece of paper in each eye.
  • Tear breakup time: This test will decide how long an individual's tear film lingers after blinking before breaking up.
  • There are numerous stains your doctor will use on the eye surface to help grade the severity of dry eyes.

Here is the picture of the detailed examination done at Eye Solutions for dry eyes.

Treatment of Dry Eye

Dry eye disease is a long-term ailment that may improve or worsen over time. However, people can feel better following the prescribed instructions in most cases. 

The Dry Eye Treatment options are classified as below

  1. Lifestyle changes or Home remedies to treat dry eyes
  2. Eye drops
  3. Meibomian gland disease treatment
  4. Treatment for closing the drainage pathway of the tears or tear ducts

Book an appointment for Dry Eyes treatment now!

Home Remedies and Lifestyle tips to reduce dry eye

  •  Blink more often: We tend to blink significantly less while looking at a phone or a computer.  It's important to remember to keep blinking our eyes while using our gadgets.
  • 20-20-20 Rule Take a break from using your laptop

Every 20 min for 20 seconds and look 20 meters away

  • Ice compresses:

Cold compresses will make you feel much better. These will also reduce the symptoms of dry eyes. An ice pack or simply wrapping ice in cloth would work.

  • Crusty Lashes should be washed:

Washing your eyelids or the skin and hair around them will help reduce lid irritation.  This can be done while taking a shower with a cue tip. If soap burns the eyes, one could use baby shampoo to scrub eyelashes.

  • Oily Fish (Natural) is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids:

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in salmon and tuna, as well as sardines, trout, and mackerel. According to research, these good fats improve the function of the oil-producing glands in your eyes.

  •  Keep a safe distance from cigarette smoke:

Cigarette smoke irritates dry eyes and increases the symptoms of dryness.

  • Consider taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement:

Some people report relief from dry eyes after increasing their omega-3 fatty acid intake. You can find these components organically in foods, such as oily fish and flax seeds. But these can also be obtained as a fluid or tablet supplement.

  • Get adequate sleep

Getting adequate sleep is one of the most essential habits you can have not only for eye health but general well-being.  The shut-eye time reduces the dryness over time.

Learn about Eye care tips to maintain good eyesight here.

Medications available to treat dry eyes:

  • Choose Over Counter (OTC) medication for dry eye carefully:

Most OTC medication consists of a substance that helps retain eye moisture. There are multiple options and even more brands for each option. 

  1. Artificial tears: You can suffer from minor dry eyes symptoms due to computer use, reading, homework, and other situational factors. However, you can regularly treat dry eyes using eye drops or other moisturizing eye drops to improve your dry eye symptoms.
  2. Restasis: Your eye doctor might suggest daily use of an eye drop named Restasis (Allergan) for dry eye treatment rather than (or in addition to) OTC artificial tears. There are prescription eye drops. Restasis does more than only moisturising your eye's surface. Its an immunomodulator and reduce the inflammation on the eye surface.
  3. Xiidra: Like Restasis, Xiidra reduces inflammation linked with the clinical symptoms of dry eyes. After two weeks of applying Xiidra, dry eye symptoms can be significantly reduced. After six weeks and 12 weeks of Xiidra treatment, participants reported an extensive decrease in dryness sensations in all four investigations.
  4. Eye drops containing steroids: In recent years, eye swelling has been identified as a prominent cause of dry eyes. The heat and stinging linked with dry eye are typically caused by inflammation. Therefore, your doctor can prescribe steroid eye drops. It will help you handle the inflammation linked with dry eyes better. 
  5. Lacrisert: Lacrisert (Bausch + Lomb) is a slow-release insert placed in a space between the eyelid and the eye's surface. Used once daily, this insert helps in reducing symptoms of dry eyes for the whole day.

Treatment of Meibomian Gland disease

  • Massage your eyelids

Following the application of the heat, massage the eyes. While you massage your eyelids, it will push out the viscous liquid from the small meibomian glands.

  • Antibiotic eye ointment

Your doctor may prescribe some ointment to help in reducing the infection in the meibomian glands

  • Antibiotic Tablets

When the inflammation of the meibomian glands is severe, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotic tablets to help with the treatment

  • Me-Check 

This is a tool to evaluate the severity of meibomian gland dysfunction. This helps in deciding if further treatment is necessary. It's quick and takes a few minutes per eye.

  • Eye-Light

After performing an assessment, this therapy is completed. It speeds up the treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction by applying heat to the meibomian glands.

Procedures to treat dry eye

A few procedures may be done to improve symptoms of dry eyes.

Silicone plugs: These are small silicone punctal plugs inserted into the punctum. Puncti ( plural of punctum) are holes in the eyelids which drain the tear fluid away from the eye and into the nose. These are located on the eyelid near the nose, and each eyelid has one puncti. These plugs block the outflow of tears from the eye by punctal occlusion and thus increase the tear volume on the eye's surface. These plugs usually work for about three months, and therefore plug insertion is temporary.

Permanent punctal occlusion: If patients find relief with the temporary punctal plugs, your doctor may consider permanent closure of the puncti. This is achieved by laser or heat and helps relieve dry eye symptoms.

Entropion or ectropion surgery: When Entropion and ectropion cause dry eyes, these conditions need to be operated upon to correct them.

Lateral tarsorrhaphy: This is an extreme step to relieve dry eye symptoms. The corner of the upper and lower eyelids, located near the ears, are sutured together to reduce the amount that the eye can stay open. This reduces tear evaporation from the eye's surface, thus reducing dry eyes.

Book an appointment for Dry Eye Treatment in Mumbai

From the above, it is evident that if you experience dry eye symptoms, it's necessary to see your doctor. All dry eyes cannot be treated with OTC medications, and some patients may need additional treatment. Contact our top Eye Specialists in Mumbai to get your eye treated now!

In conclusion, there is presently no permanent remedy for dry eyes. Individuals can, however, decrease or control the symptoms and safeguard their eyesight and vision using several therapies and home cures.

Looking for an eye hospital in Mumbai near Churchgate or Kemps corner? Visit Eye Solutions one of the top Eye clinics in Mumbai today.

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