WHAT IS IT

Dry eye syndrome is a condition whereby the eyes do not make enough tears, or when the tears evaporate too quickly because of blockage of the oil-producing glands in the eyelids. If the main problem is a blockage of the oil-secreting glands, then the condition is called blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction. This ultimately leads to the eyes drying out and becoming inflamed (red and swollen) and irritated.

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Extremely rough and uneven eye surface with multiple punctate epithelial erosions (PEEs) due to dry eye.

Dry eye syndrome can have a number of causes, including:

  • increasing age
  • hormonal changes
  • certain chronic eye or systemic diseases
  • side effects of medicines
  • occupation / viewing habits
  • being in a hot, dry or windy climate

SYMPTOMS

 

The symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:

  • Tired eyes
  • Heavy sensation of the eyelids
  • Blurred vision that clears with blinking
  • Gritty, sandy or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Excessive tearing (due to reflex tearing resulting from irritation)

TREATMENT OPTIONS

DRY EYE MEDS

  1. Treating any existing ocular or systemic disease and / or adjusting medications that aggravate dry eyes.
  2. Replacing tears
    • Eye drops called artificial tears are similar to your own tears. They lubricate the eyes and help maintain moisture. There are many brands on the market, so you may want to try several to find the one that suits you best.
    • Some formulations also come in gel or ointment forms that stay in the eye longer. If you need to use artificial tears more frequently than every two hours, preservative free brands may be better for you.
  3. Conserving your tears
    • Conserving your eyes’ own tears is another approach to keeping the eyes moist. Tears drain out of the eye through a small channel via a tiny opening called the puncta, and into the nose. These channels can be closed using punctal plugs. The plugs are inserted into the puncta and work much like a dam by blocking your eye’s drainage system. This method conserves your own tears and also makes artificial tear stay longer in the eye.
  4. Other methods
    • You can take some practical steps to prevent excessive evaporation of tears:
      • Use a humidifier if you are mostly in an air-conditioned  environment
      • Wraparound glasses may reduce the drying effect of the wind.
      • Avoid excessively smoky or windy environments.
      • Omega – 3 fatty acid supplements, which are found naturally in foods like oily fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies) and flax seeds. Oral supplements of omega-3 fatty acids are also available.
    • In more severe cases, prescription medication such as cyclosporine and steroid eye drops may also be used.