Dry Eye



What is dry eye?

Tears keep the surface of the eyes wet, clean and protect your eyes from infections. Tears also provide constant moisture and lubrication to maintain the vision and comfort to the eyes. If your eyes do not produce enough tears or if the tears produced dry up too quickly, the condition is termed as dry eye.

What causes dry eye?

Dry eye may be a temporary or a chronic condition. Different causes for dry eye are as follows :

  • Dry eye can occur during menopause as a part of the ageing process.
  • Dry eye can be a side-effect of some medications such as antihistamines, birth control pills, antidepressants, nasal decongestants and certain blood pressure medicines.
  • Dry, dusty or windy climate, air conditioning also can result in increased tear evaporation resulting in dry eye.
  • Long-term use of contact lens can also result in dry eye.
  • Infrequent blinking associated with staring at computer or video screens may also lead to dry eye symptoms. 
  • Skin disease on or around the eyelids can result in dry eye.
  • Dry eye can also develop after the refractive surgery known as LASIK. However, these symptoms generally last 3 – 6 months, but may last longer in some cases.
  • Disease of the glands in the eyelids can cause dry eye.
  • Certain immune system disorders and chronic inflammation of conjunctiva, the membrane lining the eyelid and covering the front part of the eye or the tear producing gland can also result in dry eye.
  • What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include any of the following.

  • Itching
  • Stinging on burning of the eye
  • Sensation of  something in the eye
  • Pain and redness such as “blood-shot” eyes
  • Discharge of mucous
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye fatigue

What is the simple test that can demonstrate the dryness of the eye?

Hold the eyelids wide apart for about 20 seconds. This will reproduce symptoms such as burning, stinging or dryness.

How is dry eye diagnosed?

  • Slit lamp exam : It examines the eye surface under high magnification.
  • Schirmer tear test : Doctors place a tiny strip of paper placed on the edge of the lower eyelids. It measures moisture content in the eye and determines the severity of  the problem.
  • Adye, such as fluorescein or  rose Bengal is placed on the eye to stain the surface. This can measure the surface of the eye is affected by dryness or not.

What are the treatment options for dry eye?

Numerous treatment strategies exist to battle the signs and symptoms associated with dry eye. Some of them include :

  • Blinking exercise of the eye
  • Cleansing the eyelids with application of warm compresses.
  • Using artificial tears, gets, lubricating drops and ointments.
  • Wearing glasses that have side shields which can help to slow tear evaporation from the eye surfaces.
  • Avoiding smoke, dust, air- conditioners and heaters.
  • Plugging the drainage holes, small circular openings at the inner corners of the eyelids where tears drain from the eye into the nose.
  • Increasing  water intake.
  • Avoiding alcohol and smoking
  • Increasing diet with polyunsaturated fatty acids as it reduces ocular surface inflammation and improves dry eye symptoms.
  • Lowering the computer screen to below eye level.
  • Taking regular breaks and blinking frequently during long sessions in front of  the computer.