Dry eye disease is common; its prevalence around the world varies from 5% to 34%. Its putative pathogenetic mechanisms include hyperosmolarity of the tear film and inflammation of the ocular surface and lacrimal gland. Dry eye is clinically subdivided into two subtypes: one with decreased tear secretion , and one with increased tear evaporation.
Traditionally, dry eye treatment has mostly focused on artificial tears and ocular lubricants to provide symptomatic relief, but these have their limitations. The ultimate goal of dry eye treatment is to achieve long lasting relief for patients and reduce the need for constant reapplication of lubricants.
Types of Dry Eye Disease
Aqueous deficient dry eye: This is when your eyes don’t produce enough tears. Your lacrimal gland (in the upper, outer corner of each eye) produces your aqueous tears. These tears make up the middle, watery layer of your tear film. Some autoimmune conditions can cause inflammation in your lacrimal gland and prevent it from producing enough aqueous tears.
Evaporative dry eye: This is when your tears evaporate too quickly. The most common cause is meibomian gland dysfunction. This means the glands in your eyelids that produce the outer, oily layer of your tear film don’t work properly. As a result, the oily layer is unstable and can’t protect the watery layer from drying up.
Mixed dry eye: Some people have aqueous tear deficiency and tear instability. This means your eyes don’t produce enough tears, plus your tear film is unstable. Both of these problems lead to dry eye symptoms.
Symptoms of Having Dry Eyes
1. Burning Sensation: Dry eyes can cause a sensation of burning or soreness in the eyes and eyelids, which can be quite uncomfortable.
2. Gritty Feeling: People with dry eyes may feel as if they have something gritty in their eye, such as sandpaper. This is due to lack of lubrication between the eyeballs and eyelids.
3. Blurred Vision: Dry eyes can cause the vision to become blurry or hazy, because the tears are unable to keep the surface of the eye clear and moist.
4. Redness: The irritation caused by dry eyes can make the whites of your eyes red and inflamed.
5. Light Sensitivity: People with dry eyes may be more sensitive to bright lights and find them uncomfortable.
Common Causes of Having Dry Eyes
1. Age: Dry eyes are most common in people over the age of 50, but anyone can suffer from this condition.
2. Medication Side Effects: Certain medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and decongestants can cause dry eyes.
3. Environmental Conditions: Low humidity environments, smoke or windy conditions can lead to dry eyes.
4. Blepharitis: This is a condition that can lead to inflammation of the eyelids, leading to dry eyes.
5. Tear Gland Damage: The tear glands can become damaged or dysfunctional due to various conditions such as Sjogren’s Syndrome, autoimmune diseases, or radiation therapy.
Treatments for Dry Eyes
1. Artificial Tears: Artificial tears are eye drops that can be used to lubricate the eyes and provide relief from dryness and irritation.
2. Omega-3 Dietary Supplements: Studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may help reduce symptoms of dry eyes by increasing tear production and reducing inflammation in the tear glands.
3. Warm Compress: Applying a warm compress to the eyes can help increase tear production and provide relief from dry eye symptoms.
4. Punctal Plugs: These are tiny plugs that are inserted in the tear ducts to prevent tears from draining out of the eyes too quickly.
5. Eyelid Massage: Massaging the eyelids gently or using a warm compress can help increase tear production and improve dry eye symptoms.
6. Eye Exercises: Certain exercises such as blinking more often or focusing on objects at different distances can help reduce dry eye symptoms.
7. Increase Humidity: Increasing the humidity in the environment can help reduce dryness and irritation in the eyes.
8. Prescription Eye Drops: Prescription eye drops or gels can be used to provide relief from dry eyes and reduce inflammation of the ocular surface.
9. Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct any structural problems in the tear ducts or eyelids that could be causing dryness.
10. Laser Therapy: Low level laser therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can be used to reduce inflammation in the tear glands and increase tear production.
Dry eye can be a debilitating condition that affects the quality of life for those who suffer from it. Luckily, there are many treatments available to help relieve the symptoms and provide lasting relief. From artificial tears to laser therapy, there is no shortage of methods to help manage dry eyes. While each patient may respond differently to treatment, the goal remains the same: achieving lasting relief from dry eye to improve quality of life. With proper medical attention and treatment, dry eye can be managed and even eliminated.
1. Dry Eye: Symptoms, Common Causes & Treatment:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24479-dry-eye
2. Dry Eyes: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20371869
3. What Is Dry Eye? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment:https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-dry-eye