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What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a condition that occurs when tears are not able to provide adequate moisture to your eyes. Tears can be insufficient for many reasons. For example, dry eyes may occur if your tear glands do not produce enough tears or if they produce poor-quality tears.

If you have dry eyes, you may feel a stinging or burning sensation in the eyes. Certain situations may cause your eyes to feel dry, such as on an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, or after looking at a computer screen for a few hours.

Dry eye treatments can make you feel more comfortable, and they may include lifestyle changes and eye drops. You will likely need to take these measures indefinitely to control dry eye symptoms.

What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • A stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Sticky mucus in or around the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision and eye fatigue
  • Eye redness
  • Feeling like there is a foreign object in the eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Difficulty driving at night

What causes dry eye syndrome?

It is essential to have an adequate and balanced layer of tears on the surface of your eyes to keep them healthy and comfortable. Tears are a mixture of a watery component, oily component, and mucus-like component. This mixture helps to keep the surface of your eyes clear and lubricated and protect it from infection.

Tears can be affected by a variety of causes, including hormonal changes, allergy, eyelid gland inflammation. Moreover, dry eye syndrome can be caused by increased tear evaporation or decreased tear production.

Increased tear evaporation

The following factors can increase tear evaporation:

  • Winds, smoke, or dry air
  • Less frequent blinking when focusing on something like reading, using the computer, or driving
  • Eyelids problems
  • Vitamin A deficiency

Decreased tear production

Dry eyes syndrome occurs when tear glands do not produce enough tears. The following factors can decrease tear production:

  • Aging. Although it can affect people of all ages, dry eye syndrome is more common after the age of 50.
  • Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, thyroid disorders, and vitamin A deficiency
  • Certain medications, including hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, antihistamines, decongestants, and drugs used to treat high blood pressure, acne, birth control, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Laser eye surgery, although symptoms of dry eyes associated with this procedure are usually temporary
  • Damage to the tear glands due to inflammation or radiation

How to diagnose dry eye syndrome?

The ophthalmologist may perform the following tests and procedures to determine the cause of dry eyes:

  • A comprehensive eye examination. This includes reviewing the history of your general health and eye health to help your doctor diagnose the cause of your dry eyes.
  • A test to measure tear volume. The ophthalmologist may perform a test called the Schirmer test to measure your tear production. This test includes placing paper strips under your lower eyelids. After five minutes, the ophthalmologist will measure the portion of the tape that has been inundated with your tears.
  • A test to assess the quality of your tears. The ophthalmologist uses Special dyes in eye drops are to check the condition of the surface of the eyes and measure how long it takes for the tears to evaporate.

How to treat dry eye syndrome?

  • For most people with mild dry eye symptoms, over-the-counter eye drops (artificial tears) are sufficient. If symptoms are persistent and more severe, you have other options. The doctor’s recommendation will depend on the cause of your dry eyes.
  • Some treatments aim to reverse or manage the condition or eliminate the factor that is causing your dry eyes. Other treatments are designed to improve the quality of your tears or prevent your tears from quickly draining away from your eyes.
  • treating an underlying health problem can sometimes help treat the symptoms and signs of dry eyes. For example, if a certain medicine is causing dry eyes, your doctor may recommend another medicine that does not cause these side effects.

Medications

  • Medicines to reduce eyelid inflammation. Inflammation along the edge of the eyelid can prevent the sebaceous glands from producing sebum in your tears. Antibiotics in the form of oral pills, eye drops, or ointment may be recommended to reduce inflammation. 
  • Eye drops to control keratitis. Inflammation on the surface of your eyes (the cornea) may be controlled with prescription drops that contain an immunosuppressive drug called cyclosporine or corticosteroids. It should be noted that corticosteroids are not suitable for long-term use because of their possible side effects.
  • Tear-stimulating medicines. A medicine called cholinergic ​​can be used to increase tear production. This medicine is available in the form of eye drops, gel, or pills

Other procedures

  • Closing of the tear ducts to reduce tears. Your doctor may suggest this treatment to prevent your eyes from shedding tears too quickly. This can be done by partially or completely blocking the tear ducts, which usually drain the tears away. Tear ducts can be closed with small removable silicone plugs.
  • Using special contact lenses. Ask your doctor about the latest contact lenses designed to help people with dry eyes. Some people with very dry eyes may choose special contact lenses that protect the surface of the eyes and trap moisture in them. These are called rigid or prescription contact lenses.
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