January 19, 2024

Dry eye syndrome is a condition that affects the layers of tears that cover your cornea. It occurs when the eyes can’t produce too few tears or when the tears evaporate too quickly. The condition can be mild to severe and affects one or both eyes. Lifestyle changes can cure the syndrome, but in extreme cases, a person may need proper medication or surgery for prompt treatment.

It is a common condition. Research estimates that 16 million people in the U.S. have dry eyes. Worldwide, It affects ten million people. It’s more common in Asia compared with Europe and North America. It’s also more common among people who have experienced menopause.

What are the Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome?

People tend to shed fewer tears as they get older, by 50 years old, due to hormonal changes. Both men and women can get dry eyes. However, it is more common in females—especially after menopause.

Here are some causes of dry eye:

  • Some diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, and lupus
  • Blepharitis (when eyelids are swollen or red)
  • Entropion (when eyelids turn in) or ectropion (eyelids turn outward)
  • Being in wind, smoke, or an arid climate
  • Staring at a computer screen for a long time, reading, and some other activities that reduce blinking
  • Using contact lenses for a long time
  • Having refractive eye surgery, such as LASIK
  • Taking certain medicines can also cause dry eye, such as:
    • Diuretics (water pills) for high blood pressure
    • Beta-blockers for high BP or heart conditions
    • Allergy and cold medication (antihistamines)
    • Sleeping pills
    • Anxiety and antidepressant medicines
    • Heartburn medicines

What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?

Experiencing dry eye may give you the sensation of a persistent irritant in your eye, akin to a scratchy, gritty, or sandy feeling. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Eye redness or soreness
  • Excessive tearing
  • A burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
  • A sensation of grit in the eyes
  • Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
  • Eye sensitivity to smoke or wind
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred or changed vision, especially toward the end of the day
  • Double vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • Difficulty keeping the eyes open
  • Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
  • Eyelids sticking together when waking up

Some people may experience intense eye pain, which may lead to anxiety and difficulty with daily functioning.

The symptom of watery eyes might appear confusing, yet it is a prevalent manifestation of dry eye. This occurrence arises when the meibomian glands fail to produce sufficient oils for the outer layer of the tear film. Consequently, the middle watery layer of the tear film evaporates too rapidly. In an attempt to compensate, the lacrimal glands produce more watery tears. However, these tears cannot adequately coat the eye like the essential oily layer. Consequently, they are unable to address the root cause of the issue.

Additionally, if you are searching for an eye clinic in Nigeria, in that case, it is a good idea; several reputed eye clinics provide comprehensive eye care services to address a range of ocular health issues, including dry eye syndrome.

What are the Treatments for Dry Eye Syndrome?

Treatment for dry eye syndrome usually depends on the cause of the symptoms. Several treatments can ease your symptoms and help your eyes healthy.
1- Prescription Medications

If your dry eye syndrome is more severe, your eye care provider may recommend some. medicines called cyclosporine (Restasis) or lifitegrast (Xiidra). These medicines are the eye drops that can help your eyes get more tears.

2- OTC Eye Drops

The most common treatment for mild dry eye syndrome is a type of eye drops called artificial tears. You can take these eye drops without a doctor’s prescription. There are also over-the-counter moisturizing gels and ointments available that may help your eyes feel better.

3- Tear Duct Plugs

Tear duct plugs, also known as punctual plugs, may be recommended by your doctor if tears drain too rapidly from your eyes. These plugs are placed in the tear ducts, the small openings in the inner corners of your eyes, to help retain the tears within your eyes.

4- Surgery

Dry eye may result from the excessive looseness of your lower eyelids, leading to rapid tear drainage. If this is identified as the cause of your dry eye, your eye doctor might propose surgery to address and tighten your eyelids, thereby assisting in retaining tears in your eyes. It’s important to note that this treatment approach is rare.

5- Lifestyle Changes
If factors in your life or environment contribute to or exacerbate your dry eye, your doctor may recommend adjustments to safeguard your eyes.

For instance, if a medication prescribed for another health condition is identified as a contributor to dry eye, your doctor might suggest exploring alternative medications.

To alleviate your symptoms, consider:

  • Avoid smoke, wind, and air conditioning.
  • Use a humidifier to keep optimal moisture levels in your home.
  • Limiting screen time and taking breaks from prolonged screen use.
  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses outdoors.
  • Ensuring adequate hydration with a daily intake of 8 to 10 glasses of water.
  • Prioritizing sufficient sleep, aiming for approximately 7 to 8 hours each night.

Conclusion

Choose the reputed eye hospital to discuss your available choices. Addressing another underlying health condition may lead to an improvement in your dry eye symptoms. Despite having dry eyes, there are numerous measures you can take to promote the health of your eyes. Remember these guidelines:

  • Follow your doctor’s guidance regarding using prescribed or over-the-counter eye drops.
  • Inform your doctor if dry eye is hindering your daily activities.
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