What Are Chronic Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome?

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a-wet-eye which can indicate dry eye syndrome

A dry eye is a condition many confront. It is caused by a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. Dry eye syndrome may also be stimulated by environmental aspects such as weather that irritate the eye and dry up the tear. 

People with dry eyes often feel discomfort in a variety of forms including 

  • irritation, 
  • inflammation,
  • A feeling of something in the eye. 

People with chronic dry eyes are diagnosed by a doctor and repeatedly have a decrease in the amount of tear creation due to obstruction or just a minimization of tears. People with chronic dry eyes tend to have uncomfortable feelings and symptoms for a longer period of time dry eyes for a person who works on a computer frequently may be more short-term. Treatments for minor degrees of dry eyes may not be as efficacious for chronic dry eyes because of the deviating cause.

 

How Do Tears Prevent Dry Eyes?

Tears are a major protective agent for the eyes. Tears not only wash away dust from the eyes but also soothe the eyes, provide oxygen and nutrients to the cornea as well as help defend against eye infections by removing microorganisms that can colonize the eyes. 

Tears are composed of three distinctive layers. 

  1. The outer lipid section contains an oily film that counters evaporation and keeps the eye moistened. 
  2. The middle region is made of mostly water that moisturizes the eyes and some nutrients and proteins that assist in limiting eye infections.
  3. The inner coating contains mucous that allows the tear film to spread and reduces evaporation from the eyes. 

Each layer is vital to eye health. Different parts of the eyes add to the tear production and any defect can lead to any number of possible problems like shortage of nutrients or mucous. It also shows that dry eyes are more likely if there is a depletion of tears due to the reduction in regeneration because of age or due to weather issues like windy days which can dry out tears quickly. 

common-symptoms-of-dry-eyes-illustration

Symptoms of Dry Eyes and Dry Eyes Syndrome

 

  • Burning sensation 
  • Itchy eyes 
  • Aching eyes 
  • Heavy eyes 
  • Fatigued eyes 
  • Sore eyes 
  • Dryness sensation 
  • Red eyes 
  • Photophobia(light sensitivity) 
  • Blurred vision

Another common symptom is something called a foreign body sensation- the feeling that grit or some other object or material is “in” your eyes. And as odd as it may sound, watery eyes also can be a symptom. This is because dryness on the eye’s surface sometimes will overstimulate the production of the watery component of your tears as a protective mechanism. But this “reflex tearing” does not stay long enough to correct the underlying eye condition. In addition to these symptoms, dry eyes can cause inflammation and (sometimes permanent) damage to the surface of the eye.

 

What factors are associated with dry eye syndrome?

A number of factors can increase your risk of dry eyes. These include: 

 

Digital devices like computers, phones, or television.  

When using any of these devices, we tend to blink our eyes less fully and less frequently, which leads to greater evaporation and increased risk of dry eye symptoms. 

Aging

This can occur at any age, but it becomes increasingly more common later in life, especially after age 50. 

Menopause 

Postmenopausal women are at greater risk of dry eyes than men of the same age.

Smoking

This has been linked to serious eye problems including macular degeneration, cataracts, and uveitis. 

Contact lens wear

Though it can be difficult to determine the extent that contact lens wear contributes to dry eye problems, dry eye discomfort is a primary reason ~ why people discontinue contact lens ~vear. People who wear contact lenses should take them out and keep their eyes well-hydrated. 

Indoor environments

Air conditioners, ceiling fans, and forced-air heating systems all can decrease indoor humidity and/ or hasten tear evaporation causing dry eye symptoms. 

Outdoor environments

The arid climate and dry or ~vindy conditions can cause dry eye problems. 

Underlying Health Conditions

Certain systemic diseases such as diabetes, thyroid-associated diseases, and rheumatoid arthritis contribute to dry eye problems.

Medication

Many prescriptions including antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medications, and birth control pills can cause dry eyes. 

Eyelid Problems

Incomplete closure of the eyelid when blinking or sleeping -a condition called lagophthalmos, which can be caused by aging or occur after cosmetic eyelid surgery other causes can cause severe dry eyes that can lead to a corneal ulcer if left untreated. Also LASIK, and other refractive surgery can sometimes cause dry eyes. In most cases, however dry eyes discomfort after LASIK is temporary and resolves within a few weeks of the procedure. 

 

How do I treat dry eye syndrome?

Only a careful examination of your eyes by an optometrist or ophthalmologist can reveal the presence or severity of dry eye syndrome and help your eye doctor determine the best type of dry eye treatment to keep your eyes healthy, comfortable, and seeing well.

 

Other Helpful Articles on Dry Eye Syndrome

 

Dry Eye
  • What causes dry eyes?
  • How is dry eye diagnosed?
  • How is dry eye treated?

READ MORE

 

Dry eye syndrome: Symptoms and causes Reviewed by Richard Adler, MD
  • Prevalence of dry eye
  • Dry eye symptoms
  • What causes dry eye syndrome?
  • Factors associated with dry eye syndrome
  • Dry Eye News
  • Dry eye tests
  • Dry eye treatment and prevention

READ MORE

Author

Dr.(Mrs) Immaculata Atumonye

Dr. Atumonye Immaculata(Mrs) is the founder (CEO/MD) of Immalik eye care since 2015. As a 2005 Doctor of optometry (OD) and a certified member of the Nigeria Optometric Association (MNOA), she has served in many eye clinics as a consultant optometrist. Dr. Atumonye is happily married and is a devout Christian.

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