Dry Eye Syndrome
Health Education

Dry Eye Syndrome

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 2 Oct 2013 - 21:11.

Dry eyes also referred as the Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) or Dry Eye Syndrome (DES), is a common disorder of the eyes especially affecting people above 40 years of age.  The condition is more frequently seen in women than men. Sometimes it is also called ocular surface disease.

Our eyes are protected and covered by a very thin film of tears. A dry eye is a condition characterized by any disturbance in the integrity of this film.

The tear film consists of three layers namely:

1. A mucus layer: The innermost thin mucus or mucin layer which is produced by the cells of the conjunctiva.

2. Middle watery layer: This layer is formed by the lacrimal glands of the eyelids. This washes any irritants or foreign particles present in the eyes.

3. An oily layer: The outermost layer is secreted by the meibomian glands and is responsible for keeping the tear surface smooth and prevents evaporation of tears.

 

These three layers protect the eyes and keep them comfortable.

The common causes of dry eyes are:

 

  • Inadequate production of tears
    • Improper tear production can be due to: 

      • Hormonal changes
      • Aging
      • Autoimmune diseases for example rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren's syndrome or lupus, etc.
      • Certain drugs such as antidepressants, antihistamines, oral contraceptives and beta blockers can reduce production of tears. Other medications causing dry eyes are:
        • Diuretics for high blood pressure
        • Sleeping pills
        • Pain relievers

 

  • Too much evaporation of tears
    • ​Eyes become dried due to excessive evaporation of tears. If normal blinking of eyelids is reduced, the tear film gets evaporated fast. While watching television, reading or working on computers, the normal blinking of eyes is decreased and results in evaporation of tears.

       
  • Inadequate production of mucin by the conjunctival cells as seen in cicatricial pemphigoid and Stevens-Johnson syndrome is also responsible for dryness of eyes.

     
  • In diseases such as Bell’s palsy or stroke, closing eyes becomes difficult and dry eyes occur.

     

The common symptoms of dry eyes can be summarized as under:
 

  • Scratchy or gritty sensation in eyes
  • Redness of eyes
  • Burning in eyes
  • Sensation of presence of foreign body
  • Disturbed vision
  • Sensitivity to light
     

The symptoms may get worse on a hot, dry and windy day. 

Dry eyes can be diagnosed by following simple tests:
 

  • Schirmer tear test: In this test small filter-paper strips are placed under the lower lid of the eyes and tear production is assessed at different occasions.
     
  • Your ophthalmologist can examines your eyes by instilling special dye drops in the eyes and then analyzing the time in which dry spots appear on the cornea.
  • The menace of dry eyes can be cured by eyedrops known as artificial tears.
     
  • For sensitive individuals, preservative-free eyedrops are also available. Instill them every two hourly or as prescribed by your ophthalmologist.
     
  • Sometimes your ophthalmologist might close down the opening through which your normal tears drain into your nose. This way, your natural tears can be conserved for long hours.
  • It is preferred to wear glasses while going out in bright sun, to avoid excessive evaporation of tears.

     
  • People vulnerable to dry eyes should avoid dry warm atmosphere such as hair dryers, going out in hot dry wind, etc.
*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.