Dry Eye Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention
When there is a lack of enough lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eyes, dry eyes syndrome is caused. In simple words, dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes don’t make sufficient tears, or when the tears evaporate too quickly, which often leads to the eyes drying out and becoming red and swollen.
Recently, the dry eye syndrome is widely prevalent among all age groups. In America alone, more than 26 million people suffer from dry eyes, and this number is likely to increase in the coming years. The dry eyes syndrome is likely to affect twice as many women as men. It is more common with older age as when we age, we tend to produce fewer tears. Dry eye syndrome can also affect animals. It can affect one or both the eyes.
Before discussing the various causes and preventive measures of dry eye syndrome, let us delve into the symptoms of this syndrome. Gaining a better understanding of its symptoms will help us in employing the correct preventive measures.
Below mentioned are some of the most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome:
- Redness and irritation in the eyes
- Burning sensation and soreness in the eyes
- Formation of mucus in and around the eyes
- Eye fatigue, especially after reading
- Blurred vision
- Experiencing discomfort while wearing contact lenses
- Finding it difficult to keep the eyes open
- Sensitivity to light
- Feeling heaviness
- Foreign body sensation
In addition to the above mentioned signs and symptoms, watery eyes too can sometimes be a symptom of dry eyes syndrome. This symptom is also known as “reflex tearing”. Furthermore, in the worst case scenario, dry eyes can also cause severe inflammation and, sometimes, permanent damage to the surface of the eyes.
In order to keep the eyes healthy, an adequate and consistent layer of tears on the surface of the eyes is imperative. A normal tear film consists of three components:
- An oily component
- A watery component
- A mucous component
Each component plays a pivotal role in keeping our eyes healthy, and any problem with any of these components can result in dry eyes. Depending on which component is affected, different categories of dry eyes is resulted. And this particular type of dry eye will often determine the type of treatment that will be recommended by an ophthalmologist.
Now, there are a myriad of reasons for developing an imbalance in the layers of tears.
Some of the causes include :
- Ageing process
As we get older, our eyelids tend to become less effective at spreading tears, which results in dry eye syndrome. That is exactly why we find dry eye syndrome to be more common in older people.
- Side-effects of various medicines
Another significant cause for developing dry eye syndrome is due to the intake of some medicines. For instance, antidepressants, beta-blockers and diuretics are thought to cause dry eye syndrome as their side-effects.
- Medical conditions
There are a few medical conditions known to increase the risk of developing dry eye syndrome. These conditions block the glands that produce oil for the tear film, resulting in dry eyes. Blepharitis is one such condition that can occur at any age and in otherwise healthy people. Besides, certain other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and collagen vascular diseases affect your ability to form tears.
- Issues in closing the eyelids properly
Sometimes, due to an injury, it is not possible to close the eyelids properly. When our eyelids, for whatever reasons, are not able to shut properly, dry eye syndrome can occur.
- Contact lenses
Many a times contact lenses irritate the eye and cause dry eyes. So always be careful while using different types of lenses and contact an eye specialist when required.
- Climatic conditions
An imbalance in air temperature due to air conditioners and heaters could dry out your tear film. Plus, environmental factors such as hot and windy climates, high altitude and dry climates have a drying effect on the eyes. Excessive sun, wind, hot blowing air are all responsible for causing dry eye syndrome.
- Hormonal imbalances
Hormones are undoubtedly powerful chemicals produced by our bodies. And in the process of tear production, our nervous system has a significant role to play. This means any change in our hormone level can increase our risk of developing dry eye syndrome.
Hormonal imbalances due to pregnancy, menopause, or while using contraceptive pills, can cause dry eye syndrome.
- Certain activities
When it comes to dry eye syndrome, certain activities can contribute. Reading, writing or working on a computer for long periods may cause dry eyes.
- Laser eye surgeries
In certain types of surgeries such as laser eye surgery, it is possible to feel dry eye syndrome in a few weeks after surgery. Although these symptoms may fade away after a certain time, in some cases it may continue.
Although there are many effective treatment options available for curing dry eye syndrome, it is advisable to apply preventive measures in order to keep the syndrome at bay.
Some of the useful ways to prevent dry eye syndrome are:
- Eat the right diet
First and foremost, in order to take good care of your eyes, it is profoundly significant to consume a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Sources of omega-3 include fish, canola oil, walnuts, flax oil, ground flax seed, olive oil and soybeans.
It is a good idea to gently massage the eyelids in a circular motion, with the help of your finger. Doing this will help in removing mucus from the eyelid glands.
- Rest your eyes
While reading or working on a computer, ensure that you take frequent rest. Plus, blink more frequently as that will help your eyes to regain some moisture.
- Alter your lifestyle
Smoking can irritate your dry eyes, so avoid smoking. Moreover, smoking a cigarette can also cause dry eyes, another good reason to quit smoking.
- Limit air movement
Make sure you limit your exposure to fans, wind and hair driers. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses when you are out on a windy day.
Generally speaking, dry eye syndrome is not threatening, but certainly discomforting. It is important to note that living with dry eyes can be a daunting experience. Therefore, it is strongly advisable to take proper care of your eyes in order to avoid causing dry eye syndrome. Hopefully this article has helped you in gaining accurate insights on red eyes and dry eye syndrome. Take care.
About the Author
Harvey Lee is a health and beauty blogger and works with various industry leading health and beauty product brands e.g. EyeSoothe: UK’s leading Eye Mask brand for various eye issues including Blepharitis, MGD, Dry eye syndrome and more. Harvey strongly recommends seeking physician opinion before replacing medication with natural or other non-clinical remedies.