Dry eye tests
The only way to know for sure if you have chronic dry eye syndrome is to have your eye care professional perform one or more dry eye tests during your eye exam.
The symptoms themselves are poor predictors of the presence and severity of dry eye disease. Symptoms can vary significantly from one person to another and can even be affected by personality type. Some people with only a mild or minimal dry eye condition may feel heavy in their eyes, while others may have significant dry eye problems and do not take serious symptoms sufficiently into account to consult an eye care professional. (or they may not even experience any dry eye symptoms).
Only a careful examination of your eyes by an optometrist or ophthalmologist can reveal the presence and severity of dry eye syndrome and help the eye care professional determine the best type of dry eye treatment to maintain health, comfort, and good vision of your eyes.
Treatment and prevention of dry eye
Fortunately, there are effective treatment options if you suffer from chronic dry eye. In many cases, regular use of artificial tears and small behavior modifications (taking frequent breaks when working at the computer, for example) can significantly reduce dry eye symptoms.
In other cases, your eye care professional may recommend restricted-sale ophthalmic medications and in-office procedures to help your body make and secrete more tears and decrease irritation and inflammation of the eye.
Dry eyes are a common condition that occurs when tears cannot properly lubricate the eyes. Tears can be unstable and insufficient for several reasons. For example, you can get red eyes if you don’t produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears. This tear instability causes inflammation and damage to the surface of the eye.
Having dry eyes is annoying. If you have dry eyes, they may burn or sting. You may have dry eyes in certain situations, such as on an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, while riding a bike, or after staring at the computer screen for a few hours.
Dry eye treatments can help you feel more comfortable. These treatments can include lifestyle changes and eye drops. You may need to take these steps indefinitely to control your dry eye symptoms.
Signs and symptoms, which usually affect both eyes, may include the following:
A stinging, burning, or stinging sensation in the eyes Slimy mucus in or around the eyes Sensitivity to light Redness of the eyes The feeling that you have something in your eyes Difficulty wearing contact lenses Difficulty driving at night Watery eyes, which is the body's response to irritation from dry eyes Blurred vision or eye strain
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you’ve had prolonged signs and syndrome of dry eyes, such as red, irritated, tired, or painful eyes. Your doctor can take steps to determine what is causing your eye discomfort, or you can be referred to a specialist.
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Dry eyes are the result of a variety of causes that disrupt the healthy tear film. The tear film has three layers: lipid, aqueous, and mucinous. This combination keeps the surface of the eyes lubricated, smooth, and clean. If any of these layers have problems, dry eyes can occur.
The causes of tear film dysfunction are many and include hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases, inflammation of the sebaceous glands in the eyelid, or allergic eye diseases. For some people, the cause of dry eyes is decreased tear production or increased evaporation of tears.
Less tear production
Dry eyes can appear when you can’t make enough water (watery fluid). The medical term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Some common causes of decreased tear production are:
Aging Certain diseases, such as Sjögren's syndrome, allergic eye diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, graft-versus-host disease, sarcoidosis, thyroid disorders, or lack of vitamin A Certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, replacement therapy hormones, antidepressants, birth control, and medicines to treat high blood pressure, acne, and Parkinson's disease Desensitization of the corneal nerves is caused by contact lens wear, nerve damage, or that caused by laser eye surgery, although the dry eye symptoms associated with this procedure are usually temporary
Excessive tear evaporation
The oil film produced by the small glands located on the edge of the eyelids (meibomian glands) could become clogged. Meibomian gland obstruction is more common in people with rosacea or other skin disorders.
Some common causes of increased tear evaporation include:
Posterior blepharitis (meibomian gland dysfunction) Blinking less frequently, which usually occurs when you have certain conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, or when you are concentrating during certain activities, for example, while reading, driving, or working at a computer Eyelid problems, for example, eyelids turned out (ectropion), or eyelids turned in (entropion) Eye allergies Preservatives in topical eye drops Wind, smoke, or dry air Lack of vitamin A
Some factors that make you more prone to dry eyes include the following:
Be over 50 years old. Tear production tends to decrease with age. Dry eyes are more common in people over the age of 50. To be a woman. Lack of tears is more common in women, especially if they are experiencing hormonal changes due to pregnancy, using birth control pills, or going through menopause. Eat a low vitamin A diet, found in liver, carrots, and broccoli, or low in omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Wear contact lenses or have a history of refractive surgery.
If you have dry eyes, pay attention to which situations are most likely to cause your symptoms. Then, look for ways around these situations to prevent dry eye symptoms. For instance:
Avoid blowing air into your eyes. Do not point hair dryers, car heaters, air conditioners, or fans at the eyes. Moisten the air. In winter, a humidifier can be used to moisten the dry indoor air. Consider wearing wraparound sunglasses or other eye protection. Safety guards can be added to the top and side of the goggles to block out wind and dry air. Ask about the protectors where you buy the glasses. Rest your eyes during long tasks. If you read or do another task that requires visual concentration, rest your eyes periodically. Close your eyes for a few minutes. Or blink several times for a few seconds to spread the tears evenly over the eyes. Take the environment into account. The air at high altitudes, in desert areas, and airplanes can be extremely dry. If you spend time in these places, it may help close your eyes frequently for a few minutes to minimize the evaporation of tears. Place your computer screen below eye level. If the computer screen is above eye level, you will need to open your eyes wider to see the screen. Position your computer screen below eye level, so you don't have to open your eyes as far. In this way, the evaporation of tears between blinks is slower. Stop smoking and avoid smoking. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you create a quit strategy that is right for you. If you don't smoke, stay away from the people who do. Smoke can make dry eye symptoms worse. Use artificial tears periodically. If you have chronic dry eyes, use drops even when your eyes feel fine to keep them lubricated.