In order to work properly, the eyes depend on the flow of tears to provide constant moisture and lubricants to maintain vision and comfort. Tears are a combination of water, as a moisturizing agent; oil, lubricating agent; mucus; to even spread; and special antibodies and proteins, which fight infection. All of these components are released from special glands around the eyes.
Symptoms of dry eyes
Dry eyes occur when the eyes do not produce tears as they should, or when the supporting composition of tears is not of the right consistency and evaporates too quickly. When tears don’t lubricate your eyes properly, you can experience:
- Sensitivity to light
- The sensation of rough or gritty in the eyes
- The sensation of heat, stinging, or itching in the eye
- Like there are concerns in the eye
- Blurred vision
- Eyes tired and runny
- Mucus in or around the eyes
If left untreated, this condition will cause inflammation, pain, ulcers, or scars on the cornea. In certain cases, dry eyes cause partial vision loss. However, total vision loss as a result of dry eyes is very rare.
Dry eyes may trigger “fake” tears
Patients with dry eyes will experience excessive tear production that flows down the cheeks. This happens when the eye does not get enough lubrication so the eye sends an emergency signal through the nervous system to ask for more lubricant. The nervous system of the eye then responds to this emergency request by flooding the eyes with tears to try to compensate for the dryness suffered. However, these emergency tears are made only from water and do not have a normal lubricant quality or tear composition. These fake tears can rinse away dirt, but won’t coat your eyes properly.
Dry eyes can make it more difficult to do some activities, such as using a computer or reading for an extended period of time, and can reduce eye tolerance for dry environments, such as air in an airplane.
What causes dry eyes?
There are various reasons why you can experience dry eyes, although one exact cause may not be found. Some possible causes, including:
1. Hormonal changes
Hormones stimulate tear production. Hormonal changes commonly experienced by women can increase their risk of dry eyes. For example: during pregnancy , menopause , or using birth control pills .
2. The aging process
Dry eyes are more often experienced by elderly people. This may be caused by tear production which decreases with age, and the eyelids become less sensitive to even tears on the surface of the eyes.
3. Medical conditions
Some diseases can affect the ability of the eye glands to produce tears, such as diabetes , rheumatoid arthritis , lupus , scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome , thyroid disorders , vitamin A deficiency , Bell’s palsy , allergies , contact dermatitis , HIV .
Many people who experience dry eyes also have blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). MGD is inflammation of the eyelid margin that can block the tear glands to produce oil for the tear layer. Blepharitis can be experienced by anyone, and is generally caused by a bacterial infection or other conditions, such as rosacea
Dry eye can be a side effect of consuming certain drugs, such as antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, hypertension medicines, acne medications to take, oral contraceptives, Parkinson’s drugs, beta blockers, and diuretics.
5. Environment and activities
Environmental factors are not the main cause, but rather the factors that can worsen the condition of dry eyes. For example: dust, smoke, wind, sun, dry weather, hot wind, being in high places.
In addition, when you are reading , working in front of a computer screen , writing, or other activities that require visual concentration, the eyes tend to blink less frequently. That is, the tear layer will evaporate faster than the refill process.
Some people who have had LASIK eye surgery report having dry eyes a few weeks after the operation. Symptoms usually go away by themselves after a few months, but in some cases can continue.
Contact lenses can also irritate the eye and cause dry eyes.
7. Problems with the structure of the eyelids
Ectropy (reversal of the inner and outer eyelids) and entropy (the inner eyelid that goes inside) can cause the meta to become dry and irritated by a layer of tears that evaporates quickly after being exposed to continuous outside air.
Dry eyes can also occur due to keratitis, a condition where the eyelids do not close completely during sleep .
How to treat dry eyes?
Treatment for dry eyes only helps to control symptoms, but there is no cure. Some people may have symptoms of repeated dry eyes during their lives.
You should discuss treatment options with an eye care specialist. Treatments for dry eyes may include:
- Artificial tears. Mild to moderate dry eye cases can usually be treated with eye care lubricants, such as artificial tear drops, gels and ointments. Even so, artificial tears are the main therapy for dry eye complaints because the thickness is very similar to natural tears. Artificial tears are sold freely on the market without having to use a recipe. Tear drops are of many kinds and one brand may not be right for you. It’s a good idea to experiment to find which drops are most effective for you. If you have chronic dry eyes, it is recommended to use artificial tears even when you feel there is no problem. Avoid artificial tears with preservatives if you need to apply them more than four times a day or are treated with chemicals that cause blood vessels to constrict.
- Eye drops. Some eye drops contain preservatives to prevent harmful bacteria from growing inside the medicine bottle. If your symptoms require that you use eye drops more than six times a day, you should use preservative-free eye drops. This is especially important if your doctor has told you that you have severe symptoms of dry eye. Preservatives that are used in large quantities or over long periods of time (months or years) can damage fine cells on the surface of the eye or cause inflammation. If you wear soft contact lenses , you may also need to use preservative-free lubricants, because preservative residues will stick to contact lenses and damage the eyes.
- Wear glasses. Choose reading glasses or sunglasses that fit close to your face or that have side shields to help slow the evaporation of tears from the surface of the eye. In the room, an air purifier to filter out dust and other particles can help prevent dry eyes. Humidifiers can also help add moisture to the air. If you are a contact lens wearer, changing the type of lens or limiting how often you use it will usually help relieve the symptoms of dry eye. In addition, you can try replacing lens cleaning solutions or preservative-free drops of lubricant.
- Avoid dry conditions. Make sure your eyes get enough rest when doing activities that require you to use your eyes for a long time. Apply eye drops when doing this routine.
- Drinking water and adequate nutrition. Drinking lots of water will help keep your mucous membranes moist. Try to eat more foods that are rich in omega-3 fats – flaxseeds, walnuts, and fatty fish like salmon and cod.
- Do not rub the eyes. Try to blink more often as you read, write, drive, or work in front of the monitor to spread tears evenly across the surface of the eye. Also, avoid rubbing your eyes too hard, which can worsen your symptoms.