Tears lubricate and provide moisture to your eye. Lacrimal glands, located on the inside of your eyelids, are responsible for the production of tears. When these glands fail to produce enough tears, you suffer from dry eye syndrome. This syndrome is also called dry eye disease (DED). You can also suffer from this syndrome if your tears evaporate quickly. If left untreated, prolonged dry eye syndrome can lead to serious complications. However, this syndrome rarely causes blindness. Therefore, it is good to understand the causes of dry eye and how best to prevent and treat them.
Tears lubricate and provide moisture to your eye. Lacrimal glands, located on the inside of your eyelids, are responsible for the production of tears. When these glands fail to produce enough tears, you suffer from dry eye syndrome. This syndrome is also called dry eye disease (DED). You can also suffer from this syndrome if your tears evaporate quickly.
If left untreated, prolonged dry eye syndrome can lead to serious complications. However, this syndrome rarely causes blindness. Therefore, it is good to understand the causes of dry eye and how best to prevent and treat them.
The following are common causes of dry eye.
Dry eye syndrome can affect one or both eyes. It can also lead to inflammation. Here are some causes of dry eyes.
Certain medications such as sleeping pills, acne drugs and antihistamines can cause dry eyes. Tears are made up of mainly water, mucus and oil. The mucus in the tear is what is responsible for the lubrication of the eye. Some drugs can alter the composition of mucus n the tear hence contributing to dry eyes.
Anyone can have dry eye syndrome. However, the older you get, the more likely you are to get dry eyes. This is simply because as you age, your tear production also reduces. Natural aging processes such as menopause also cause dry eyes due to hormonal changes. Sadly, dry eye syndrome caused by old age is irreversible.
3. Deficiency of Vitamin A
A restrictive diet that is low on Vitamin A can cause dry eyes and other vision deficiencies. This explains why doctors recommend eating carrots and other foods rich in vitamin A for healthy eyes.
Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, spinach, fish and eggs. To determine whether your dry eye is caused by vitamin A deficiency, a doctor will carry out a simple blood test.
Allergies can cause dry eyes. Red, swollen ad itchy eyes usually characterize an allergic reaction. Antihistamines are often used to treat such allergies. Unfortunately, these drugs worsen the symptoms of dry eyes.
Smoke makes your eyes dry. Smoking cigarettes is not only harmful to your lungs but also to your eyes. It is best to avoid smoky environments at all costs.
6. Autoimmune diseases
Many autoimmune conditions such as diabetes, vascular diseases, and arthritis can cause poor tear production. These diseases affect your ability to make enough tears.
You may experience any of the following symptoms if you suffer from dry eye disease.
• Stinging or burning sensation in the eye
• Redness of the eyes
• Itchy and sore eyes
• Blurred vision
• A feeling of grit and debris in your eye
• Sensitivity to light
• Watery eyes as a result of overproduction of tears
• Mucus in and around your eyes
• Eye fatigue, especially after reading a book or staring at a computer
• Difficulty driving at night due to night blindness
Anyone can have dry eyes. Nonetheless, some factors can make you more susceptible to dry eye disease. These factors include:
1. Old age
You are likely to get dry eye syndrome if you are older than 50 years of age. Your tear glands produce fewer tears as you grow older.
Women are more likely to suffer from dry eye syndrome compared to men. Hormonal changes in women are unavoidable. Pregnancy, use of birth control and menopause cause hormonal changes in the body. These hormonal imbalances, in turn, may affect the production of quality tears.
3. Restrictive diets
People who have restrictive diet plans can suffer from dry eyes. A well-balanced diet is recommended for the overall health of your body. A diet lacking in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids can lead to dry eye syndrome.
If left untreated, chronic dry eye syndrome can lead to serious complications.
First, you may develop serious eye infections. Your tears act as a protective barrier to your eyes. They protect your corner from harmful elements. Without tears, your eye is exposed to dirt and debris, which may lead to infections.
Secondly, a lack of tears can cause damage to the surface of your eyes. Tears contain water, mucus and oils. The oils smooth down the surface of your eyes and also slows down the evaporation of your tears. The mucus provides lubrication and enables the tears to spread evenly all over the eye. Water washes out any dirt. An imbalance of these three components will result in abrasion of the corneal surface and vision loss.
The third complication is that dry eyes can decrease your quality of life. Dry eyes are uncomfortable and sometimes very painful. They can affect how you go about your daily routine. For example, dry eyes can make it difficult for you to read your favorite book or participate in your favorite sport.
Prevention is better than cure. To prevent dry eye disease, you need to be keen on the causes of your symptoms. Here are 8 preventive measures that can help you prevent dry eyes.
Dry air is not good for your eyes. Whenever possible, use a humidifier to add moisture to the air when you are indoors.
2. Do not blow into your eyes
No, do not blow into your eyes to get the dirt out. Additionally, do not stare directly into fans, car heaters or air conditioners. These gadgets have small debris that may hurt your eyes.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet
A diet rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fats will go a long way in improving your eyes' health. Food rich in vitamin A and omega- fats are carrots, flaxseed and tuna fish. The body uses fatty acids to reduce inflammation and protect the cell membranes of the eyes.
4. Minimize the use of contact lenses
Contact lenses can dry your eyes. Be careful not to scratch your cornea when putting on your lenses. Moreover, wash your hands thoroughly when handling your contact lenses. This minimizes the spread of germs into your eyes. Avoid wearing your contact lenses for a long period of time.
5. Avoid smoke
If you are a smoker, quit smoking. If you don't smoke, keep away from people who smoke. Smoke aggravates the symptoms of dry eyes.
6. Know your environment
Note that some areas, such as high altitude areas, can be arid. The environment inside an airplane is also arid. In such situations, it is recommended to close your eyes for some time to minimize the rapid evaporation of your tears.
7. Take eye breaks
It is not healthy to read for long periods of time. This is because your eyes become tired and fatigued. It would help if you took short breaks to stretch and rest your eyes. Avoid staring at your computer or phone for long periods of time. Moreover, set low screen brightness for your gadgets.
8. Wear sunglasses
It would be best if you protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. For added protection, consider getting wrap-around frames for your sunglasses.
Dry eye syndrome can be easily diagnosed and treated. An ophthalmologist will perform a simple eye exam. He will then examine your eyelids and the surface of your eyes. During the examination, you will be asked to blink severally.
Depending on the condition of your eyes, your doctor will carry out different tests on your tears. This will help ascertain the quality of your tears. It will also help the doctor know how many tears you produce.
There are several treatment options if you suffer from severe dry eye syndrome. The most commonly used is artificial tears. Artificial tears are synthetic tears that mimic the composition of your actual tears. They contain the same component as your actual tears. They are easily sold over the counter, and you do not need a prescription to purchase.
Your ophthalmologist may also prescribe eye ointments and drops. These drops may stimulate your glands to produce more quality tears.
If your eyes are irritated and inflamed, you may consider massaging your eyelids. You can also use eyelid cleaners to clear off any dirt and debris from your eyelids. Moreover, you can apply warm compresses to your eyes to relieve any tension and irritation.
The doctor can carry out more complicated procedures to treat your dry eye syndrome. The doctor can choose to close your tear duct using punctual plugs. A punctual plug is a small device inserted into one of your tear drainage ducts' small openings.
These ducts are usually located in the inner corner of the lower and upper eyelids. This helpful since it will prevent tears from draining out of your eye. The tears remain on your eye for longer periods of time, lubricating and protecting it.
There are also holistic dry eye treatment plans available. These involve the use of nutritional supplements. You can take supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids. A good source of this supplements is fish from cold water sources.
Dry eye disease is not a life sentence. However, it is better to prevent it than to treat it.