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A to Z of Dry Eyes for the common man.

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What is dry eye? How do I know if I have dry eye? 

Dry eye is a condition which is caused due to either a reduction in the quantity or the quality of tears. Tears protect the surface of your eye, and when the ocular surface is disturbed by either mechanism, it can cause dry eye.  Each of these types can be caused by multiple reasons. But if you are suffering from any of the following, you should consult your eye doctor to rule out dry eye disease:

  1. Feeling of grittiness in the eye 

  2. Feeling that something is stuck inside the eye 

  3. Burning sensation 

  4. Tiredness, heaviness or vague discomfort

  5. Pain in and around the eye 

  6. Redness 

  7. Blurring of vision especially while performing tasks 

 

​Some individuals and certain professions have a higher risk of developing dry eye. Environmental and lifestyle influences also play a big role in dry eye disease. Following are some of them.

  1. Long hours of exposure to digital devices such as computers, laptops, television, cellphones etc. 

  2. Poor sleeping habits 

  3. Poor dietary habits such as not including enough water , fiber or nuts in the diet 

  4. Using contact lenses for long durations ( more than 6 hours a day) 

  5. Wearing eye make up 

  6. Working in a dusty environment. E.g. At construction sites, fieldwork etc. 

  7. Working in a dry environment e.g. Offices with air-conditioning 

  8. Smoking 

  9. Diabetes, Connective tissue disorders such as Rheumatoid arthritis 

  10. Certain medications such as anti- glaucoma eye drops, anti-histamines, anti-depressants 

I have think I have symptoms of dry eye. What should I do? 

You should consult your eye doctor to find out the reason behind the dry eye. Symptoms of dry eye can overlap a wide range of other eye disease. So it is important that you consult an eye doctor and avoid using over the counter medication from the pharmacy. 

Your eye doctor will run a series of tests to examine your eye and the health of your tear film. Sometimes, certain diagnostic scans may also be necessary. 

Treatment options generally depend on the underlying reason. 

  1. If the quantity of tears is inadequate 

This usually occurs due to old age, in patients with diabetes or connective tissue disorders, or due to certain medications, or existing pathology in the eye (Sjogren’s syndrome, Steven Johnson’s Syndrome etc.) 

In such cases, tear supplements in the form of artificial tear drops or gels or ointment may be prescribed. Efforts to treat the underlying primary condition is also made. Further treatment options can include use of special contact lenses, punctal plugs and so on.


 

 2. If the quality of tears is inadequate 

This is a more common kind of dry eye. It occurs when some of the Meibomian glands, which are present in the lid margins do not function properly, thus altering the quality of the tears that are secreted. There is associated low grade infection and inflammation of the eye. 

In such cases, along with tear supplements, you eye doctor will prescribe some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory eye drops along with lid hygiene practices. 

 

It is, however, important to note that environmental and lifestyle conditions can aggravate the dry eye symptoms. Thus, lifestyle modifications play a big role in the treatment of dry eye

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