The eye depends on the flow of tears to provide constant moisture and lubrication to maintain vision and comfort. Dry eye is a condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tears, produce poor-quality tears or the tears evaporate too quickly.
Tear consists of the following, an imbalance of these elements can cause dry eye:
• Water – for moisture and wash debris from your eyes
• Oils – for lubrication and to prevent evaporation of tears
• Mucus – for even spreading of tears on the surface of the eye
• Antibodies – to protect eyes from infection
Dry eyes can be associated with:
• Aging – dry eye is a part of the natural aging process.
• Gender – women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes, especially in menopausal and pregnant women.
• Medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis.
• Medication such as antihistamines, diuretics.
• Environmental conditions such as dust, smoke, dry air.
• Air conditioning or heating systems can increase tear evaporation.
• Staring at the television or computer for long hours without sufficient blinking.
• Long-term use of contact lenses.
Symptoms of dry eye:
• pain or discomfort
• feeling something in the eye
• eye strain
• red eyes
• blurring of vision
• sensitivity to light
• Watery eyes, which is the body’s response to the irritation of dry eyes
• Decreased tolerance of reading, working on the computer, or any activity that requires sustained visual attention.
Treatment of dry eye:
• Correcting the underlying cause.
• Keep your eyes clean.
• Take artificial tears frequently to supplement natural tear production and lubricate the eyes.
• Use humidifier during hot and dry environment to moisten the air.
• Use air purifier or ionizer to filter dust and particles.
• Eating a healthy diet that includes foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids such as tuna, salmon and walnut.
• Drink enough water to prevent dehydration.
• Take frequent breaks when doing something that requires close concentration such as using a computer or reading, close your eyes for a few minutes and blink your eye frequently.
• Wear sunglasses when you are outside to protect your eyes from wind and sun.
• In severe cases, surgery may be considered.
Even though majority of dry eye problems can be managed by patients alone, if there is a change in vision, pain or severe redness, consult your doctor for medical advice.
*This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a health care provider. Like any printed material, it may become out-of-date over time.