The name “dry eye” can be a little confusing since one of the most common symptoms is excessive watering of the eyes. It make more sense, though, when you learn that the eye makes two different types of tears. The first type, called lubricating tears, is produced slowly and steadily throughout the day. Lubricating tears contain a precise balance of mucous,water, oil, nutrient proteins and antibodies that nourish and protect the front surface of the eye.
The second type of tear, called a reflex tear, does not have much lubricating value. Reflex tears serve a s a kind of emergency response to flood the eye when it is suddenly irritated or injured. Reflex tears might occur when you get something in your eye, when you’re cutting onions, when you’re around smoke, or when you accidentally scratch your eye. Another cause of reflex tearing is irritation of the eye from lack of lubricating tears. If your eye is not producing enough lubricating tears, you may have dry eye.
Hormonal changes due to aging and menopause, thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies can contribute to increasing dy eyes. Some disease and conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, lupus and Sjogren Syndrome also cause dry eyes in many patients.
What are the symptoms of dry eyes?
If you wear contact lens, you may find they become uncomfortable. Both eyes are usually affected. Symptoms include:
- Irritation in the eyes
- The eyes may feel sandy or gritty.
- Foreign body sensation, burning or itching
- Slight blurring of vision from time to time
- light sensitivity or even
- Excessive tearing.
Symptoms tend to increase from morning to evening. Example the longer a person wears the lenses throughout the day, the more likely he or she is to have dry eyes complaints. Dry eyes can also be made worse by windy weather, which dries out the eyes further, tobacco smoke, low humidity, air conditioning or when you blink less often. Medications such as anti histamines, anti depressants, sleeping bills, diuretics or beta blockers decrease tear production and may aggravate symptoms.
Dry eyes diagnosed.
If you suspect you have dry eyes on wearing contact lense, you should make an appointment to see your eye doctor. Your historical information often gives the most reliable clues to diagnosis of dry eyes. A careful examinations of all the eye tissues usually provide more documentation for making a diagnosis.
While assessing for CLIDE (Contact Lense Induced Dry Eyes) your doctor will document your comprehensive contact lens history. He will evaluate whether the lens has been worn daily or extended overnight. Your doctor may need to ensure that you are not sleeping in lenses approved for daily wear wear, as this can lead to CLIDE. Environment factor such as humidity, closed to heating or air conditioning duct may aggravate CLIDE.
Your eyes may be examined using a special microscope called slit lamp. The condition of the tear film (the layer of liquid) on your eyes is looked at, and the cornea (front of the eyes) is checked to see if it has dried out, or has been damaged. Your doctor may also use different dyes to see if skin cells on the eye have worn away. The dye is put in your eye as an eye drop, and the dye will temporarily stain the eye where cells have worn away.
A test called the Schirmer test may also be carried out. A thin strip of filter paper is placed just inside the lower eyelid. After a few minutes, the paper is then removed to see how much liquid it has soaked up. Your doctor can then measure how dry your eyes are.
Treatments for dry eyes symptoms.
For those patients with mild to moderate dry eyes the first course of treatment may be to use unpreserved artificial tears or re wetting drops as prescribed by he doctor. Depending on the nature of your tear fil deficiency, the doctor may have you use a specific type of artificial tear that has different characteristic in terms of salt content and viscosity. In addition to artificial tears, your doctor may suggest the need to switch to a less irritating or preservative free lens care system. These are specially formulated lens lubricating and re wetting drops specifically designed for contact lens wearers because other types of drops may contain ingredients that can damage the lens. Re wetting drops for contact lens wearers are usually not as thick as gels and are designed to provide relief and long lasting lubrication to help retain moisture. Most doctors recommend preservative free tears because they are the most soothing and have fewer additives that could potentially irritate the eye. Avoid products that are irritating to the eyes, they don’t have adequate lubricating qualities and often make problem worse.
Protein removal is also an important issue, especially for patients with CLIDE. In heavily depositing persons with less frequently replaced lenses, regular enzyme treatments are advised. Daily wear lenses and daily disposables will be a good option. In severe cases, a reduced wearing schedule of daily replaced lenses would be ideal. If optically viable, your doctor may consider changing your lens to a high water content lens that retains water in the lens matrix or an RGP lens with a low amount of silicone content.
In addition, your doctor may counsel you on environmental factors and modifying the diet. Most likely you will be asked to drink plenty of water.
How to reduce eye discomfort from dry eyes.
- Good hydration, drink plenty of water, reduce caffeine intake.
- Protect the eyes from harsh weather conditions like wind and dust.
- Environmental control, minimize impact of heat and air conditioning by turning down, redirecting vents.
- Avoid smoky environments or quitting smoking if you smoke.
- Identify and replace, which are causing or exacerbating dry eye.
- When watching TV, using the computer or other eye straining activities, take breaks.
- Make a conscious effort to blink frequently, especially when reading.
Eat healthy food containing eye nutrients especially with vitamin A, C, and E.