Are you suffering from dry eyes? Monicah Phele, optometrist at Absolute Eyecare Access park, says it is important to understand the reason behind your eyes suffering from dryness.
She describes dry eye as a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eyes. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain into the back of the nose. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance.
People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are of a poor quality. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
Why have I developed dry eye?
Dry eye is caused by a problem with your tears. You may develop dry eye if:
you don’t produce enough tears;
- your tears aren’t of the right quality;
- your tears aren’t spread across the front of your eye properly.
Dry eyes can develop for many reasons, including age. Dry eyes are a part of the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.
Gender: Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and menopause.
Medications: Certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce tear production.
Medical conditions: People with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes.
Conditions: Exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.
Long-term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as lasik, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.
Prevalence: Wide variation in prevalence worldwide (6.5% to 52.4%); higher prevalence in women in all studies.
Prevalence rises with age, between 2.0% and 10.5% per decade.
Signs and symptoms of dry eye:
- Ocular irritation
- Excessive tearing
- Foreign body, gritty or burning sensations
- Presence of a stringy mucous discharge
- Blurring of vision from epithelial disruption or (transiently) from mucus strands
- Symptoms usually bilateral; may not be described as a feeling of dryness
- Associated symptoms of dry mouth, systemic disease (e.g. arthritis)
How is dry eye diagnosed?
If your eyes feel uncomfortable and irritated, or you feel like there is something in your eye all the time, then you should tell the optometrist so that they can do more tests.