December 28, 2018
Our eyes are reliant on moisture for them to function properly. Our bodies produce a permanent film of very fine tears for this purpose. These are created by something known as the lacrimal gland and help our eyes remain sufficiently lubricated. This natural lubricant also contains a variety of important antibodies, proteins and oils that ensure our eyes are mobile and as healthy as they can be.
Unfortunately, there are various factors that can affect our production of natural lubricant. When this happens, our eyes become drier and this makes it harder for them to move as effectively. This becomes known as dry eyes or dry eye syndrome.
Unsurprisingly, the most obvious symptom of dry eyes is a feeling like your eyes are dry. This may trigger you to blink more frequently to try and produce tears to moisturize them and make your eyes more comfortable. Some of the other signs and symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Blurred vision
- Stinging or burning
- Redness and/or swelling
- Eye pain
- Heavy eyelids
- Difficulty paying visual attention to anything for long periods
Patients who would normally wear contact lenses may find that their dry eyes make it impossible for them to use their lenses comfortably. It may also make it more difficult to take them out and put them in since natural lubrication usually help with this process.
Another symptom which is fairly rare but possible is a sudden overproduction of tears. This happens as the body identifies that there is a problem with tear production and tries to rectify it. However, the tears that are produced are normally poor quality and lacking in the essential nutrients needed for them to be effective.
In the vast majority of cases, dry eyes are an age-related problem that occurs when the lacrimal gland fails to produce lubrication as effectively. For this reason, dry eyes tend to be more commonly diagnosed in patients over the age of 60. Nevertheless, there are some other factors that could potentially cause dry eyes to develop. These include:
Dry eyes are a common side effect after undergoing laser vision correction such as LASIK or PRK surgery. This is because the procedure can temporarily interrupt tear production. However, most surgeons prescribe eye drops to help minimize the problem and most patients find that the issue resolves itself once their eyes are fully healed.
Certain medications, including antihistamines and some contraceptive drugs, list dry eyes as a common side effect of their use.
Hormones have a number of vital roles within our bodies. Estrogen is one hormone that is linked to the effectiveness of the lacrimal gland, and when a patient becomes menopausal, their estrogen levels fall dramatically. This can trigger the slow-down of tear production, causing dry eyes to develop.
Whether you have undergone elective eye surgery such as an eyelid lift, or you have had an accident that has affected your eyelids, trauma to them can result in an ability for them to close properly. If this happens, the increased exposure to the air can cause them to feel dry and sore.
Sufferers of this condition find that their body attacks its own tear and saliva glands and prevents them from working properly.
Fortunately, dry eye syndrome can be effectively managed with the right treatments. These could include prescription eye drops, oral medications and a solution known as punctual plugs which help to retain moisture on the surface of the eyes. However, the first thing that you will need to do is obtain a diagnosis. Our eye specialist will be able to confirm whether or not you have dry eye syndrome and discuss the best course of action to help alleviate your symptoms.
To schedule an appointment to discuss your individual case, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced team.