Dry eyes is a very common condition that occurs when the quantity and quality of the tears fails to keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated.
• The tear film is made up of 3 layers each with a specific task. If any of these layers are inadequate then dry eye can occur.
o The outer oily (lipid ) layer keeps the tears from evaporating too quickly and helps the tears remain on the eye.
o The middle layer is the thickest layer and is known as the watery or aqueous layer. It contains water soluble proteins nourishing the cornea and conjunctiva as well as inside the eyelids. It keeps the eye lubricated and comfortable as well as washing out debris or dust that gets into the eyes.
o The inner mucin layer binds water from the middle layer to ensure the eye remains wet. It also helps spread the watery middle layer of the tear film across the eye.
Symptoms of dry eyes
Dry eye causes an irritating sensation or the feeling that something is in the eye. Other symptoms include stinging or burning, episodes of excess tearing that follow periods of dryness, discharge, pain, and redness in the eye. People with dry eye may also feel as if their eyelids are heavy and may experience blurred vision.
Factors that can contribute to dry eye include the following:
• Medications including antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy to relieve symptoms of menopause, and medications for anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and high blood pressure have been associated with dry eye.
• Dry eye is more common in people age 50 years or older.
• Rosacea (an inflammatory skin disease ) and blepharitis (an inflammatory eyelid disease ) can disrupt the function of the Meibomian glands.
• Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and Vitamin A deficiency are associated with dry eye.
• Women are more likely to develop dry eye. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and after menopause have been linked with dry eye. Women also have an increased risk for autoimmune disorders.
• Windy, smoky, or dry environments increase tear evaporation.
• Seasonal allergies can contribute to dry eye.
• Prolonged periods of screen time encourage insufficient blinking.
• Laser eye surgery may cause temporary dry eye symptoms.
An Ophthalmologist or an Optometrist who has examined your eyes and is familiar with your medical history will be able to determine the cause of the dry eyes with a variety of tests.
Sometimes there is no cure but only management of the dry eye so that symptoms are not severe. Your eye care professional will be able to decide the best course of treatment to alleviate your symptoms.
If you are concerned you may have dry eyes, Please call Oranmore Optometrists on 091 788537 to arrange an appointment.