Dry Eye Disease
In a healthy eye, tears coat the outer surface of the eye to keep it moist, lubricated, clean, and clear. These tears are made up of three liquid layers: a mucous inner layer, a watery middle layer, and an outer oil layer. When a person blinks, the tears are replenished and redistributed over the surface of the eye.
Dry Eye Disease is a common condition that causes discomfort to the eyes and can cause vision problems. This disease is caused when the tears evaporate from the surface of the eye too quickly or the glands around the eye do not produce an adequate amount of tears. As a result of the eye being dry, the eye can become inflamed, which can be painful and lead to further damage such as ulcers, scarring of the cornea.
What types of Dry Eye are there?
- Evaporative dry eye can result from inflammation of the meibomian (oil) glands. The oil layer that coats the outer surface of the tears is resistant to evaporation. If the gland that produces the oil is inflamed and can not produce a sufficient amount of oil, then the tears evaporate too quickly.
- Aqueous tear-deficient dry eye is caused by the lacrimal (tear) gland not producing enough of the middle watery layer of tears.
- Other causes include inflammation of the eye, changed tear components due to disease, and increased exposed surface area of the eye.
Dry Eye Symptoms
- Blurry vision
- Itchy, burning eye
- Sensation of grittiness or sand
- Feeling as though there is something in the eye
- Pain and redness of the eye
- Uncomfortable contact lenses
- Decreased tolerance of tasks such as reading, computer work, or any activity that requires focused visual attention.
How can my Dry Eye be treated?
A doctor’s visit is always suggested, especially if the discomfort continues for an extended period of time. By working with your doctor, you will be able to come up with a customized plan to help combat your dry eye. Some methods of treatment may include prescription drops, vitamin supplements, tear duct plugs, specialty scleral contact lenses, or, in some cases, an amniotic membrane.
How can I make my eyes more comfortable and healthy?
- Drink a sufficient amount of water (about 8-10 cups every day)
- Limit screen time or take breaks every 20 minutes
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun
- Try to not rub your eyes
- Talk to your doctor about any discomfort to come up with a treatment plan
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