Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome (dry keratoconjunctivitis) is a very painful condition and one of the most common problems an ophthalmologist assists in curing.

It is usually caused by a deficiency of the lacrimal layer which hydrates the eye, meaning that the eye isn't producing enough tears, and this in effect dries up the eye. In extremely severe situations this can lead to loss of vision.

How do tears protect our eyes?

tired eyesThe thin layer of tears, an extremely complex fluid, which is produced by various glands around the eye, has a way of removing impurities from the conjunctiva, lubricating hydrating and nourishing the cornea, while protecting the eyes from harmful bacteria, allergens and other infectious substances. Tears are refreshed every time we blink. Tears also have a functional effect: our vision is clear and not blurry if the layer of tears has no lesions.

Natural tears, which cover our eyes and hence moisten them for a clear and unobstructed vision, consist of 3 layers. The outer lipid layer covers the cornea and protects the two inner layers. The intermediate watery layer is the largest part of the lacrimal layer and it is the one that rinses and removes foreign bodies and irritants from the eye, nourishes, oxygenates and hydrates the cornea. Finally, the inner mucous layer serves to cover the watery layer evenly and adhere to the cornea and the conjunctiva.

Who does it effect and why?

Dry eye mainly affects the elderly, postmenopausal women and people with Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Parkinson's disease and other chronic conditions.

Dry Eye Syndrome can also be caused by heat, drought, cigarette smoke, prolonged computer use, use of contact lenses, as well as some medicines. Also, thyroid problems and vitamin A deficiency can also lead to Dry Eye Syndrome.

Symptoms

The usual symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome are having irritant eyes, a burning sensation within the eye, redness, itching, feeling as if there is sand in the eye, sensitivity to light, blurred vision that improves only when excessively tearing up.

Treatment

First of all, the cause of dry eye has to be found and addressed if and when posible. If not then we need to reduce the irritation by administering artificial tears.

In advanced situations, it is possible to temporarily or permanently close the lacrimal points so that the small amount of tears that are created remain in the eye for as long as posible.