What is dry eye?
In this article, we will explain the factors and symptoms of dry eye. Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision.
It is common in humans and in some animals. It can affect one or both eyes, and it can lead to inflammation. Dry eye syndrome can occur at any age, and in people who are otherwise healthy.
It is more common with older age, when the individual produces fewer tears. It is also more common in women than in men. It is more common in places where malnutrition results in a vitamin A deficiency. Increasing device and smartphone use has made dry eyes more prominent than ever before. If not treated well, severe dry eyes can lead to serious vision problems or eye pain.
Factors of dry eye
Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage are not in balance. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are of a poor quality:
Inadequate amount of tears: Tears are produced by several glands in and around the eyelids. Tear production tends to diminish with age, with various medical conditions or as a side effect of certain medicines. Environmental conditions, such as wind and dry climates, can also decrease tear volume due to increased tear evaporation. When the normal amount of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.
Poor quality of tears: Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. Each component protects and nourishes the front surface of the eye. A smooth oil layer helps prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucin layer spreads the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If the tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly over the cornea due to deficiencies with any of the three tear layers, dry eye symptoms can develop.
A patient with dry eye syndrome may experience a range of symptoms, including:
- a stinging or burning sensation, and a feeling of dryness, grittiness, and soreness in the eyes
- a feeling like sand in the eye
- stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- eye sensitivity to smoke or wind
- redness of the eyes
- difficulty keeping the eyes open
- eye fatigue after reading, even for a short time
- blurred vision, especially towards the end of the day
- sensitivity to light
- discomfort when wearing contact lenses
- double vision
- eyelids sticking together when waking up
Some people find the pain very strong, and this can lead to frustration, anxiety, and difficulty functioning in daily life. Complications may include a worsening of eye redness and light sensitivity, increasing painful eyes, and deterioration of eyesight.
When to see a doctors
If your eyes feel dry and you’re suddenly unable to see as well as you used to, visit an eye doctor, ophthalmologist, or optometrist right away. Dry eye is best treated early. If it goes untreated for a long time, it becomes more difficult to manage. Book your appointment with us at Malaya Optical Optometrist today!