Healthy Living

What is Dry Eye?

What is Dry Eye?

Key Takeaways

  • Dry eyes are a condition in which the eyes do not get enough moisture and lubrication from tears.
  • Severe cases of dryness in the eyes may increase the risk of eye infections. 

Dry eyes are a condition in which the eyes do not get enough moisture and lubrication from tears. It is the tears that provides constant moisture to the eyes, which is very important for comfort of viewing. It is a very common condition in the population, particularly in people above 40-years-old. It is found more common among women, when compared to men. Without adequate lubrication by tears, eyes may have a burning feeling and become very uncomfortable.

An issue with the tear flow system dry out the tear film in the eyes and result in dry eyes. Some of the common conditions that may result in dryness like dry air from air conditioning and heat result in dry eyes.

Dry eye

Other common causes of dry eyes include:

  • Aging, and this is particularly true about women after menopause
  • Certain medications like antihistamines and birth control pills
  • Health conditions that affect the production of tear by the glands including collagen vascular diseases, antidepressants and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Abnormal production of mucin
  • Improper closure of eyelids which prevents the spread of tear evenly on the surface of eye
  • Infection on eyelids or eyelashes

Dry eyes is characterized by symptoms like:

  • Redness of eyes
  • Itching
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Gritty feeling in the eyes
  • Pain

In some cases, excessive tearing can be seen as a symptom of dry eyes. Excess tears are produced as a response to the lack of adequate lubrication in the eyes. Eyes send the message and in response eyes are flooded by tears to compensate for the dryness. But this tear does not have the same composition as that of normal tear and is mostly composed of water. Severe cases of dryness in the eyes may increase the risk of eye infections. It may also result in thinning and perforations in cornea affecting vision. 

A number of treatment options are available for alleviating the symptoms of this eye condition. These include:

  • Eye drops and ointment – Lubrication of the eyes can be improved by using artificial tear drops and ointment.
  • Punctual occlusion – This will close the channel that drains tear and allow tear to remain in the eyes. The plug for the channel can be either temporary or permanent.
  • Topical steroids – These are useful in alleviating the symptoms of the condition
  • Surgery – This may be used to permanently block the duct that drains tear into the nose.