The Dry Eye disease also known as the dysfunctional tear syndrome or keratoconjunctivitis sicca is a disease which occurs when the tear glands of the eye discontinue making tears or when the tears evaporate too soon. Dysfunction of the tear glands is usually due to blockage of oil glands within the eye.
Tears usually consist of three layers. The outermost surface of the tear is the oily layer which is responsible for smoothing out the tear surface and prevents tears from evaporating. The central or watery layer is responsible for clearing out any foreign particles in the eye and cleansing it. The innermost layer which is made of mucus is what allows the tears to stick to the eye and helps it remain moist.
The main cause of the syndrome is usually attributed to hormonal changes. This is why women going through menopause are usually affected by the disease. It can also be caused as a side-effect of some over the counter medicines usually those associated with the treatment of high blood pressure, allergies, anti-anxiety, and pain relievers. Exposure to irritants in the atmosphere is also usually a cause for keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Extremely windy climate, smoke, or air conditioning are also some of the known causes.
Symptoms of dry-eye include irritation in the eye and excessive watering. This is the natural reaction of the body to a lack of tears. The lack of the layer of tears over their eyes exposes the eye to the dry wind and irritates the eyes. Individuals suffering from dysfunctional tear syndrome find it difficult to keep their eyes open for prolonged periods of time. They also face discomfort when looking at light displays such as computer screens or televisions.
The symptoms can be quantified as;
- Excessive dryness in the eyes
- Itchiness and irritability
- Burning and stinging sensation in the eye
- Sandy and rough feeling in the eyelids
- Excessive sensitivity to brightness and light
- Excessive tearing up of the eyes
- Problems with night vision and generally blurred vision
It is recommended for individuals with tear dysfunction to visit a doctor immediately. Although tear dysfunction is not completely curable, a doctor may help sufferers alleviate the symptoms and help them manage the irritability. A doctor may prescribe eye drops which need to be periodically applied to the eyes.
Eye-drops will enable the eye to create more tears and reduce the redness and the inflammation. For more extreme cases, doctors may surgically insert a small device near the lower eye-lid. This device contains a lubricating formula and releases a certain amount of that formula at regular intervals. Sufferers are also advised to wear sunglasses throughout the day to protect from the harsh wind and dust along with light.
It has been observed that an intake of fatty acids containing omega-3 often decrease the symptoms which is why patients are often advised to increase their intake of fish and flaxseed oil. Drinking plenty f water during the day and keeping the body hydrated is a good way for making sure the body creates more tears. Discontinuance of any medicine that causes dry-eye is advisable.