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What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry Eye Syndrome, also called Keratitis Sicca is a condition of chronic lack of lubrication or moisture for the eye. This moisture is usually present by the presence of tear glands near your eyes. Dry eyes, is caused when these tear glands cannot produce sufficient quality or quantity of tears to lubricate your eyes. Although there is no permanent damage to your eyes or vision, it can cause serious damage to your eyes in extreme cases.  

The dry eye syndrome is also called Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca if it affects both the cornea and conjunctiva or as Dysfunctional Tear Syndrome if the quality of the tear is as poor as the quantity.

What are the symptoms for Dry Eye

(Do I have dry eyes)?

The common symptoms for Dry eyes include

  1. Continuous dryness

  2. Irritation in the eyes

  3. Stinging or burning sensation

  4. Difficulty in wearing contact lenses

  5. Mucus discharge from your eyes

  6. Strain in the eyes

There is also a possibility of your eyes being excessively watery due to your lacrimal glands making up for the dryness by secreting excess tears.

Tear Science

The tear is usually composed of three layers

  • Outer - Oily lipid Layer

  • Middle - Aqueous Layer (Watery)

  • Inner - Mucin Layer

These three layers are produced by different glands present around the eyes. A deficiency in producing any of these layers can cause dry eyes.

Tears are responsible for the over all moisture of our eyes, removing any dust or debris collected.

They also contain certain enzymes that are responsible for neutralizing the microorganisms that are present in the eyes.

Hence, tears are really important to maintain the overall good health of our eyes.

What are the causes for Dry Eyes?

  • One of the main causes for Dry Eyes is the failure of our lacrimal glands to produce sufficient tears to keep the moisture maintained.

  • Natural aging is also one of the causes for reduced tears

  • It is more commonly seen in elderly women, may be due to hormone fluctuations.

  • It is caused due to over use of certain medications like Antihistamines, antidepressants, contraceptive pills, blood pressure medications.

  • It can also be caused due to prolonged exposure to environmental factors like dry windy or dusty climate.

  • One of the causes for dry eyes is the continuous use of air conditioning or staring at a computer screen without blinking

  • Dry eyes can also be a symptoms for certain medical conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Collagen Vascular Disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Thyroid Disease, etc.

What are the tests to detect Dry Eyes.

  • One of the common diagnosis for a Dry Eye is the examination of your eyes by an Eye Surgeon.

  • Schirmer Test: This measures your tear production with placing tear strips under your lower eyelid.

  • One of the specialized tests for Dry Eyes is by the use of a dye (Fluorescein or Rose Bengal) to check for staining patterns

  • Tear Breakup time - The doctor checks the Tear Breakup on the Eye’s Surface by placing a dye on the surface of the eye.

  • There are modern day diagnostic equipments that determine which layer exactly in your tear film is causing the dryness.  

What is the treatment for Dry Eyes?

Depend on your tear film analysis, your treatment is decided.

Dry can be treated as a temporary solution or as a permanent solution, depending on the underlying reason for your dry eyes.

Artificial Tears: This is one of the most common treatments for dry eye syndrome.  Eye drops are added regularly to your eyes that replicate your tears to replenish your eyes with moisture and lubrication.

Punctal Occlusion:  The tear ducts drain out naturally through a channel in your nose. In punctal occlusion, this channel is permanently closed to maintain the level of your natural tears for a longer period. This is a suitable solution when the patient is suffering through chronic dry eye syndrome.

Surgery: In cases of permanent dry eyes or chronic dry eyes, surgery is also considered as a solution for long term benefits from dry eyes.

Note: Based on all the test and pre-operative evaluations, it is your eye surgeon that can decide on the best course of treatment for your Dry Eye Syndrome.

Preventive Measures for Dry Eyes:

  • Exercise: Get a habit of doing eye exercises regularly. Eye exercises help reduce all major problems and keeps your eyes hydrated.

  • Avoid excessive warm or cold areas that can increase the dryness of your eyes.

  • Do not stare at screens constantly without blinking or looking away.

  • Avoid certain medications that are known to cause dry eyes.

  • For more information, visit out preventive care section.



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