Dry eye syndrome is a condition that occurs when your tears cannot adequately moisturise, protect and clean your eyes. Every time you blink, tears moisturise your eye and clean it from dust and microorganisms.
The severity of dry eye syndrome may vary from slight discomfort to a constant inflammatory condition. Dry eye syndrome is one of the main causes of chronic eye irritation today. The syndrome can be caused by either disrupted tear production or poor quality of tears.
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:
- burning sensation;
- foreign body sensation;
- tiredness of eyes;
- gritty sensation;
- sensitivity to light;
- foggy vision.
In addition to the abovementioned, excessive tearing may also be a symptom of dry eye. This condition is caused by the overproduction of poor-quality tears. As the tears produced do not remain on the surface of the eye long enough, the discomfort related to dry eyes will also persist.
What causes dry eyes syndrome?
Tear production can be affected by common conditions such as diabetes, thyroid diseases and rheumatoid arthritis.
Various nonprescription and prescription medicines, such as antidepressants, antihypertensives, birth control pills and allergy medications, also cause dry eye syndrome.
Use of digital screens
Dryness of eyes can also be caused by prolonged use of display screens, during which the frequency of blinking is reduced. The normal blink frequency of eyes is 15–20 times per minute, which drops to only 6–8 when using screens. Reduced blink frequency causes excessive evaporation of tears and increases the likelihood of dry eye symptoms.
Environment and other factors
Environmental factors also play a major role in the development of dry eyes. Low air humidity, air conditioning and fans contribute to the dryness of eyes. Additionally, dry eye syndrome can be caused by excessive wear of contact lenses, smoking and laser eye procedures.
Treatment and prevention of dry eyes
Frequent use of artificial tears and lifestyle changes may be the best treatment for mild dry eye symptoms. The position of fans and air conditioners should be observed and their airflow directed away from the eyes. For long-term close-up work, it is recommended to take regular breaks and close your eyes for a few minutes. The use of omega−3 fatty acids and vitamin A also helps to reduce the risk of developing dry eyes.
For more severe dry eye syndrome, prescription eye drops may help. The drainage of tears can also be prevented with punctal plugs that increase the eye’s tear film thickness and improve the effectiveness of artificial tears.