What is Dry Eye?
One of the most common eye problems. Most people assume that gritty, red, watery eyes are just part of their lives. Accordingly, one out of five may be suffering from dry eye and is unaware of it. Tears are produced by two different methods; one method produces tears at a slow steady rate and is responsible for normal eye lubrication. The other produces large quantities of tears in response to eye irritation or emotions. Dry eye is the decline of the quantity and/or quality of tears.
What is Meant by Tear Film?
Tears are secretions of special glands known as lacrimal glands,
a film of tears spreads over the eye by blinking,it makes a smooth eye surface. Without our tear film we can not see clearly.
The tear film is not a simple fluid, it consists of 3 layers:
- Oily layer: Forming the outermost layer. It reduces evaporation of tears.
- Watery layer: Forming the middle layer, and about 90% of the tear film. It washes away foreign particles.
- Mucous layer: Forming the innermost layer, allowing the spreading of the tear film over the surface of the eye, and helps the eye remain wet.
How do I know I have dry eye?
- If you feel your eyes gritty, itchy, and dry.
- If you are having eye irritation from smoke, dust, and wind.
- If you have chronic redness or foreign body sensation. You might have dry eye so, Please consult your eye doctor soon.
What is your age and gender?
Tear production decreases by age. Although both men and women of any age may experience it, women are most often affected. This is due to hormonal changes i.e. pregnancy, lactation, or postmenopause.
Could other diseases be the cause of dry eye?
Several diseases may result in dry eye such as diabetes, thyroid abnormalities, hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other eye diseases.
Are you a computer user?
Staring at the screen for long hours reduces blinking so that the tear fluid is no longer adequately distributed over the eye surface.
Hereunder are some guidelines to reduce the risk:
- Distance between the eye and the screen should be 50-70 cm.
- Edge of the screen should not be above eye level.
- Short breaks are needed.
Do you wear contact lenses?
Then your eyes have increased need for fluid. In addition, the lenses decrease tear production, and reduces blinking thus affecting spread of mucus that is why you are liable to develop dry eye.
Do you work in closed buildings?
Working in interior buildings, overheated rooms with low humidity causes dust particles to be distributed in the air of the room binding molecules of contaminants, which cannot be washed by tears, thus leading to eye irritation. A natural solution for improving this condition is plants, which keeps air pure, in addition to regular areation.
Are you on any medications?
Some medications, such as drugs for allergy, sedation or contraceptive pills, may reduce tear production.
What about the surrounding environment?
Last but not least sunny dry weather, air currents, pollution, fumes, dust, or waste gases all aggravate dry eye.
How is dry eye diagnosed?
An opthalmologist (eye doctor) is usually able to diagnose dry eye by examination, but sometimes measuring the tear production by specific tests may be necessary.
What is the treatment?
It is a safe and easily treated disease. Treatment is very simple, just replacing the normal tears with artificial tears, several types are available. Your doctor will choose the most suitable for your condition.
Several other modalities of treatment exist for people with persistent complains of dry eye.
It must be noted that treatment must be continous and prolonged, since the use of a single drop occasionally will not result in controlling the symptoms.
Is it a must to treat dry eye?
Yes, because if not treated properly it may lead to serious problems.