All you need to know about dry eyes

All you need to know about dry eyes

Tears reduce the risk of eye infection and provide lubrication essential for maintaining your eye health. However, sometimes, the eye cannot produce sufficient tears for adequate moisture, or there is an imbalance in the tear composition. This leads to dry eyes, which cause itchiness, irritation, and redness in the eyes. This condition can occur at any age. Read on to know more about the causes, symptoms, treatments, and home remedies for dry eye syndrome.

Causes of dry eyes
The tear film has three layers—fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus. Any problem in any of these layers can cause dry eyes. There are many causes for developing dry eye syndrome and this includes the following:

Aging
Dry eye syndrome is more common in older adults due to reduced tear production.

Gender
Dry eyes can also be prevalent in women due to hormonal changes during menopause or the use of oral contraceptives.

Medications
Certain medications such as antihistamines, nasal decongestants, birth control pills, and antidepressants can cause dry eye syndrome.

Medical conditions
Certain medical conditions can also affect the body’s ability to produce tears. These include Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disorders.

Environmental conditions
Prolonged exposure to the wind or arid air can dry out your tear film resulting in dry eye symptoms.

Others
Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASER, can contribute to dry eyes. Long-term use of contact lenses or staring at a computer for long hours can also cause reduced tear production.

Symptoms of dry eyes
Dry eye syndrome can cause a range of symptoms. These include:

Burning sensation
A burning or stinging sensation in the eyes is a common symptom of this condition.

Redness in the eye
People with this condition may experience redness in their eyes.

Stringy mucus
Stringy mucus in or around the eyes is another noticeable symptom.

Eye discomfort
Wearing contact lenses can be uncomfortable for people with this syndrome. They may even feel an uncomfortable sensation without any particular cause.

Blurred vision or eye fatigue
Blurry vision or eye fatigue, particularly at the end of the day, is a symptom to watch out for.

Watery eyes
Watery eyes occur as a response to the irritation caused by this syndrome.

Sensitivity to light
People with dry eyes also become sensitive to light. For example, bright sunlight, computer and device screens, and flashing lights.

Treatments for dry eyes

Over-the-counter artificial tear drops and ointments
The most common treatments for mild dry eye syndrome are using over-the-counter artificial tear drops and ointments. It is recommended to use preservative-free artificial tear solutions that help increase eye moisture without irritating your eyes.

Prescription eye drops
Depending on the severity, your doctor may recommend prescription eye drops that contain cyclosporine to treat your dry eyes. This medication lubricates the surface of the eye and lowers the risk of damage to the cornea. In some cases, corticosteroid eye drops may be used for the short-term management of symptoms. Alternative options like cholinergic can also help increase tear production.

Punctal plugs
Punctal plugs may be used for keeping natural tears in the eyes longer and to reduce dry eye symptoms. These plugs are inserted in the tear duct of the lower or upper eyelid.

Surgery
Your doctor may recommend surgery if your condition is severe and is not responding to treatments. The tear ducts may be closed completely to allow your eyes to maintain adequate tears.

Home remedies for dry eyes
Dry eyes symptoms can also be managed, up to an extent, with various home remedies. These can be preventive measures too.

Blink more often
When reading or staring at the computer screen for long periods, consciously blink more frequently.

Increase moisture
For relieving dry eye symptoms, use a humidifier, which will help increase the moisture in your room.

Wear quality sunglasses
To prevent worsening of dry eye symptoms, wear sunglasses when going outdoors. They will provide protection to your eyes from dry winds and sun.

Warm compress
Apply a warm compress to your closed eyelids to help reduce eye inflammation.

Eat oily fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that help the oil-producing glands in your eye work better. Include salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, and mackerel in your meals. They are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids to help ease your symptoms.

Stay hydrated
Your eyes also need water to stay healthy and moist. Aim to drink at least eight to ten glasses each day for proper hydration.

The best dry eye treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. If your eyes feel dry for more than a few days, visit an eye doctor or ophthalmologist who will recommend a way in which you can soothe your symptoms.