Dry eye syndrome is a common condition which affects the eyes. It occurs due to insufficient lubrication and moisture in the eyes. It is also called as dry eye disease or keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This condition affects a majority of people, especially during old age.
What is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome occurs when the tears produced are inadequate to lubricate the eyes. Due to this, the eyes fail to shield against dust and impurities. This causes discomfort or irritation to the eyes. Tears play an important role in preserving the health of the eyes. It is also helpful in providing a proper vision to the eyes.
What are the symptoms?
Dry eye causes a lot of discomfort and irritation. It gives a feeling of having something in the eyes all the time and an itchy sensation. A few other common symptoms of dry eye syndrome are as follows:
- Pain in the eyes
- Heaviness of eyes
- Dry sensation
- Redness of eyes
- Blur vision
In a few cases, there are chances where the eyes may produce excess tears. The lack of dampness in the eyes irritates them. There is stimulation to produce tears in excess, as a defense mechanism. This condition is “reflex tearing” and is only a temporary disorder.
What are the causes of dry eye syndrome?
There are many reasons for the occurrence of the dry eye syndrome. But the major factor which causes it is the lack of tear production. It occurs when there is an increase in tear evaporation or an imbalance in tear composition. The other factors which cause dry eyes are:
The risk of developing dry eye increases with an increase in a person’s age. It is a natural condition in one’s old age. This is because the tear production reduces when a person grows older. The majority of people who suffer from this condition are above 65 years of age.
There are a few medications which diminish the tears produced. The medications like antihistamines and antidepressants reduce the tear production in the eyes. As a result of this, one suffers from dry eye syndrome.
The symptoms of dry eye occur more in women than men. This is due to the hormonal changes which happen during pregnancy or menopause. The use of contraceptives also causes this syndrome in women.
- Medical conditions
The medical conditions prevailing in a person can cause the syndrome. The disorders like Rosacea and Blepharitis may disrupt the functioning of the glands. Other disorders like thyroid deficiency and diabetes also cause dry eyes.
- Environmental conditions
The dust, smoke, and other factors cause dryness in the eyes. These factors evaporate the tears very fast and thus causes the dry eye syndrome.
How is the syndrome diagnosed?
The ophthalmologist diagnoses the dry eye syndrome through an eye examination or check-up. The symptoms and signs of the patient help the doctor to confirm the prevalence of the dry eye disease. The doctor examines the eyes to check the thickness and quantity of the tear. An inspection of the eyelids helps to find out if there is inflammation.
Apart from this, the ophthalmologist may conduct many other tests. These tests include:
- Use of Dyes
There are different types of dyes which the doctor may use to examine the eyes. These dyes help to stain the areas which have inadequate tear film.
- Schirmer test
It helps in measuring the tears produced in the eyes. The doctor uses a filter paper to check the wetness of the eyes.
- Osmolarity test
This test helps to measure the salt content in the tears. It helps to check the salt levels, which is higher in the case of dry eyes.
What the different ways of treating dry eye syndrome?
There are many types of treatment available to treat the dry eye syndrome. These treatments help to keep the eyes healthy and reduce discomfort. It prevents the syndrome from disturbing the vision of the eyes.
The approaches used to treat the syndrome are as follows:
- Artificial Tears
This treatment uses eye drops to increase the moisture in the eyes. This treatment is suitable when the symptoms of the syndrome are very mild. It helps to stimulate the production of tears.
There are various medications available to treat this condition. They help in reducing inflammation and increase tear production. The medications reduce the risk of damage to the eyes.
- Lacrimal plugs
The plugs help to block the holes in the corner of the eyes. It is a means to preserve and conserve the natural tears. The tears usually drain out through the tear ducts. The plugs help to block the ducts.
Surgery is recommended when other treatments fail. A surgical procedure typically closes the ducts which drain the tears.
Apart from the above treatments, one can also do some self-care. It is important to ensure that the eyes are not exposed to impurities. One must take good care of their eyes to reduce the risk of the syndrome.