Dry eye is a chronic condition of the eyes which causes inflammation and discomfort. It occurs due to loss of stability of the tear film.
The various causes of dry eyes include but are not limited to-
- Deficiency of the lacrimal glands
- Certain medications such as high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, birth control pills, etc.
- Certain medical conditions such as Sjrogren’s Syndrome, diabetes, thyroid disease etc.
- Meibomian gland deficiency. The meibomian gland produces the lipid or oil component of the tear film. Deficiency of this gland causes the tear film to evaporate faster.
- Seasonal allergies
- Contact lens wear
- Low blink rate, especially with prolonged screen time.
Early signs of dry eyes may be a dry scratchy sensation in the eyes, a sandy feeling or a foreign body sensation. There may be burning, itching and tiredness and watering of the eyes.
If you wear contact lenses, pay attention to proper cleaning and wearing techniques.
Try the 20-20-20 technique if you need to use the computer a lot. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at an object 20 feet away. Remember to blink regularly.
Avoid cigarette smoke, and other smoke filled rooms as this can make dry eyes worse. A humidifier in the room can give relief from dry eye discomfort especially during the winter months.
Mild symptoms of dry eyes may be treated with over the counter natural tear drops.
If you need to use eye drops frequently through the day, preservative free products are recommended. Eye drops with higher viscosity provide relief for a longer duration. However they may cause blurring of vision when instilled and may be appropriate for bedtime use.
There are various eye exercises which help improve and maintain eye health.
Various eye drops and oral medications are available by prescription as treatment for dry eyes.
The following symptoms may need prompt medical attention from an eye care specialist-
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision or other visual changes
- Physical or chemical injury
- If you wear contact lenses and develop dry eyes
- Foreign object in eye
- If you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and develop dry eyes
About the author…
Veena Shanbhag is a practicing pharmacist and owner of Streetsville Shoppers Drugmart. In her spare time Veena loves to teach yoga….