Dry Eye Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Side Effects, Prevention, And More

dry eye syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eyes or dry eye syndrome is a condition that triggers when tears are not able to supply sufficient lubrication for the eyes. Tears could be insufficient for several reasons. For instance, dry eyes could occur if enough tears are not produced or even if produced are of poor quality.  

Dry eye syndrome leads to the uneasiness of eyes. If you are suffering from dry eyes, the eyes may burn or sting. One could even undergo dry eyes in few conditions like on a jet, in an AC room, while riding or following few hours watching a computer screen.  

Treating dry eyes makes one feel more at ease. And the treatments for dry eye syndrome include prescribed eye drops or changes in lifestyle. These treatments for dry eyes could be for an indefinite period to bring the dry eye symptoms to control. 

1. Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of dry eyes are usually found in both eyes and do not include only one eye. These include:

  • A stinging, scratchy or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Stringy mucus around or in the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Redness of eyes
  • A constant feeling of something present in the eyes
  • Intricacy placing contact lenses
  • Difficulty to drive during night times
  • Watery eyes which signal the response of the body to the irritated dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue or blurred vision 

When To Consult A Doctor?

See a doctor in case you have had longstanding signs and symptoms of dry eyes, including irritated, red, painful, and tired eyes. A doctor can diagnose and determine what is irritating your eyes or can suggest another specialist if needed.

2. Causes

2.1. Tear Glands & Tear Ducts

Dry eye syndrome is caused due to lack of sufficient tears. Tears are a composite combination of water, mucus, and fatty oils. These tears assist in making the surface of the eyes clear and smooth and also aid in protecting the eyes from infections. 

For a few people, the dry eyes’ cause is due to less production of tears. For others, it is high evaporation of tears and inequality in the making of tears.

2.2 Decreased Production Of Tear

Dry eyes are also the result of the inability to secrete enough tears. The medical terminology of this condition is called keratoconjunctivitis sicca. 

The common causes of decreased tear production comprise:

  • Aging
  • Few medical conditions such as diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, thyroid disorders and deficiency of vitamin A 
  • Certain medicines such as antihistamines, hormone replacement therapies, decongestants, antidepressants, high blood pressure medications, birth control pills, and Parkinson’s disease
  • Laser eye surgery, although dry eyes symptoms due to this process are temporary usually
  • Damage of tear gland from radiation or inflammation

2.3 Augmented Tear Evaporation

The common causes of increased tear evaporation include:

  • Wind, dry or smoke air
  • Blinking very less, which occurs when you are focusing, say for instance while reading, working on a computer or driving
  • Problems of eyelids like in-turning of the lids (entropion) and out-turning of the lids (ectropion)
  • The disparity in the composition of the tear

The tear film has 3 basic layers: oil, mucus, and water. Setbacks with any of these 3 layers could lead to dry eyes. For instance, the oil film generated by small glands on the eyelids’ edge (meibomian glands) might get clogged. Blocked or clogged meibomian glands are very common in people with inflammation along the edges of their eyelids (blepharitis), rosacea, or some other skin disorders.

Also Read: Best Eye Drops For Itchy Eyes

3. Risk Factors

Factors that cause dry eyes consists:

  • Aged more than 50: production of tear tends to reduce as you turn old. Dry eyes are very common in people aged above 50.
  • The feminine gender: lack of tears is very much common in women than in men. This is even more if they have hormonal changes due to the usage of birth control pills, pregnancy, or menopause. 
  • Having a diet that’s less in vitamin A: eating foods that have less Vitamin A means increasing the chances of dry eyes. Vitamin A is high in carrots, liver, broccoli, and so on. The same way it is less in omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in walnuts, vegetable oils, and fish. 
  • Wearing of contact lenses

4. Side Effects

People having dry eyes experience these side effects: 

  • Eye infections: Tears safeguard the eyes’ surface from infections and external hazards. With no presence of sufficient tears, one can have chances of increased eye infection chances. 
  • Injure to eyes’ surface: Injuries if left without treatment, stern dry eyes could lead to inflammation of eyes, scrape of the corneal surface, vision problems, and corneal ulcer.
  • Decreased life quality: Dry eye syndrome can make life difficult. Everyday activities become hard to carry on.  

Also Read: How To Put In Eye Drops Safely

5. Tips For Prevention                                          

If you’re experiencing dry eyes, pay interest to the conditions that are most supposedly to lead to symptoms of dry eyes. Then search for paths to stay away from those circumstances to stop your dry eyes symptoms.

For example:

  • Stay away from the air blowing into eyes: Do not direct car heaters, hairdryers, air conditioners or fans towards the eyes.
  • Add moisture to the air: In winters, a humidifier can add moisture to dry indoor air.
  • Think wearing wraparound sunglasses or some other defensive eyewear: Adding safety shields to the sides and tops of eyewear is a good idea to block dry air and wind. Ask regarding shields whenever you purchase your eyeglasses.
  • Go for eye breaks when on long tasks: If you are doing or reading for long hours always prefer taking breaks. Taking regular breaks when visual concentration is needed for longer hours is always good. Just closing eyes for fewer minutes will do the trick. Or even blinking frequently for a few seconds will aid in distributing the tears evenly. 
  • Be vigilant about the environment: The air present at high altitudes, in deserts and also in an airplane can be highly dry. When you are spending time in such environments, it could be supportive to close eyes frequently for about 5 minutes at a stretch to minimize the tear evaporation.  
  • Position the computer screen below the eye level: If the computer screen is above the eye level, one needs to open the eyes wider to see the screen. Position the computer screen below the eye level so that the need to open the eyes wide isn’t needed. This could assist in slowing the tear evaporation between eye blinks. 
  • Stop smoking: If smoking is part of your day, ask the doctor for aid to quit smoking. Besides, also stay away from smoke as even smoke can lead to quick tear evaporation.  

In addition to all the above make use of artificial tears very often so that your eyes are wet and will stay hydrated long.