Dry eyes, dry eye syndrome, or dry eye disease means that the eyes do not have enough tears to provide moisture for the eyes. Tears are composed of water needed for moisture, oils for lubrication, mucus to evenly spread moisture, and antibodies to protect the eyes from infections. Hence, tears provide comfort, moisture, lubrication, and protection for the eyes. This also means that the naturally healthy state of the eyes is for them to be wet.
Types of Dry Eyes
Dry eyes manifest in two ways: evaporative dry eye or aqueous-deficient dry eye. Evaporative dry eye means that there is an abnormality in the eyes that causes tears to evaporate too quickly. On the other hand, aqueous-deficient dry eye means that the tear (lacrimal) glands under the eyelid do not produce enough tears.
Causes and Symptoms
So, why do you have dry eyes? In simple terms, dry eyes result from a dysfunction of the tear system. The chances of developing an imbalance in the eye's tear flow system increase in certain conditions and factors, such as living in a very dry or windy climate, using computer and handheld devices very frequently, and constantly using the eyes for work and recreational activities. Dry eyes could also be a result of a natural aging process like menopause or the presence of other diseases in the body such as Sjogren syndrome, lupus, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, ocular rosacea, and many others.
Some of the symptoms of dry eyes include feeling grittiness (as if a foreign object is in the eye), itching, redness, blurry vision, visual distortions, and light sensitivity. The feeling of burning and stinging are symptoms of evaporative dry eye. Eye pain is arguably the most devastating symptom of dry eyes.
The problem with treating dry eyes is that there is a general misconception that all cases can be relieved by over-the-counter eye drops. However, you should know that complex cases need more extensive treatments. Even if the symptoms start off mildly, it is strongly recommended to visit an eye doctor for a baseline checkup. You should know that the eye is highly systematic—even the most minor problem in one part could affect its whole system and vice versa. Once the eye doctor identifies whether you are suffering from a minor dry eye syndrome or a severe infection, they will begin more rigorous treatments like autologous serum, anti-inflammatory therapy, topical Vitamin A therapy and even surgery.
Of course, preventive measures are also important. You should keep your eye moisturized through conducting blinking exercises while working on a computer and wear protective gear whenever it is extremely windy. You should also keep your eyes well-rested in between work and recreational activities. An eye care supplement that provides critical nutrients for eye health is also a great addition to your daily routine. Learn more about eye care supplements here.