What is dry eye?
It is a chronic inflammatory disease associated with deficiencies in the quantity and / or quality of the tear film.
The tear film is a complex system made of three different layers, each of which plays a unique role in the health of the eye’s surface.
People suffering from dry eye may experience symptoms such as a gritty feeling in the eye. They may also present a sensation of pain, tension or fatigue in the eyes, this is often accompanied by blurred vision.
The prevalence of dry eye increases rapidly and its impact on a person’s quality of life can be profound. Simple activities such as using the computer, reading and driving can be negatively affected by this condition.
The sensation of dry eyes is often caused by a problem in the tears of the eye. Tear problems can be caused by the environment, drugs or health conditions.
Low humidity, wind (sleeping with a fan) and smoke are environmental factors that can cause problems with tears.
Low indoor humidity is also caused by extreme outdoor temperatures.
Even with a humidifier, we usually apply heat or air conditioning more in extreme conditions, causing our knuckles to break, lips to break and eyes to burn.
Other low humidity environments include aircraft and large buildings, such as shopping centers, office buildings and hospitals.
Allergens and smoke also cause tears to evaporate more quickly.
Drugs that often cause dry eye include:
- Sedatives, sleeping pills, cold remedies or pills for anxiety.
- Pills for allergy.
- Medications for blood pressure.
- Eye drops medicated as drops for glaucoma.
- Your ophthalmologist can help you identify medications that may be causing your symptoms.
Health conditions that can cause dry eye include:
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Parkinson’s disease
- Previous eye surgery.
Finally, any visually intensive task, such as reading a book, looking at a computer or watching television, causes it to blink less frequently. Blinking less leads to eye fatigue and dry eyes.
For each hour of reading or watching television, take a break and look away from the screen for at least 20 seconds. Blink frequently and consider using eye drops. Avoid eye drops with an analgesic or allergic component.
If you must sleep with a fan on or other air moving, use a drop of gel or eye ointment. These treatments will help keep your eyes moist at night.
Add nuts and fish like salmon to your diet. Both contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help the oily tear layer look more like oil instead of shortened.
The more fluid the layer is, the better it spreads through the upper part of the tears, avoiding evaporation. If you are allergic to nuts or do not like fish, try a fish oil supplement.
If symptoms persist, consult an ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologists are doctors trained to treat eye diseases medically and surgically.
They will make a complete medical history and a complete eye exam to determine all the factors that contribute to the dry eye syndrome and will prescribe the treatment.
Be patient with your body, the dry eye can not be cured like the pink eye with a cycle of antibiotic drops. It is a chronic condition that requires changes in lifestyle and often, medical treatment to maintain the best possible eye condition.
If dry eye is not treated, can it cause more serious eye problems?
In some cases, if left untreated dry eye can cause permanent damage and loss of vision. Chronic desiccation, or extreme dryness, of the surface of the eye can cause scarring and even infectious ulcers.
The key is to identify the disease early, when the treatment can be more effective and when the damage can still be reversed.
The time to visit the ophthalmologist is not once the loss of vision occurs, but earlier in the disease when the symptoms are only perceived as a “nuisance”.
With so much innovation in treatment and diagnostic options, people suffering from dry eye symptoms should take advantage of the services of a visual health professional.
Early identification and treatment are essential to control the disease and improve the quality of life. Remember, sometimes blurred vision does not just mean that you need to change your lenses.