What is Dry Eye? - First Eye Care North Arlington

What is Dry Eye?

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Dry Eye Can Be Cause By a Number of Different Factors

Several conditions can plague your eyes. Many of them directly affect your vision while some threaten the health of your eyes. Dry eye is one such condition that affects the overall comfort and health of your eyes. Tears are needed to provide appropriate lubrication for your eyes, but with dry eye, tear production is altered.

Dry eye can be an uncomfortable condition, leaving your eyes stinging or burning. Several situations can lead to dry eye. Today, we are going to take a deeper look into dry eye.

What are Tears? 

When you blink, your eyelids help spread tears across the surface of your eye known as the cornea. Tears provide your eyes with lubrication that helps reduce the danger of eye infections, washes away debris, and keeps the surface of your eye smooth and clear.

Tears are comprised of three small layers:

  • Oily Layer: The oily layer is the outermost part of the tear film. The eye’s meibomian glands create it. This layer prevents the evaporation of the watery layer of the tears.
  • Watery Layer: The watery layer makes up the majority of tears. It is found in between the oily layer and the mucus layer. This layer cleans the eye by washing away any foreign debris that could harm it.
  • Mucus Layer: The mucus layer is the innermost layer and the closest to the surface of the eye. Without this layer, the watery layer would not be able to spread over the surface of the eye. Tears wouldn’t be able to stick to the eyes. The clear tissue covering the white of the eye known as the conjunctiva produces this layer.

Tears are produced to moisten your eyes. When they become irritated, or we cry, our eyes produce a lot more tears. However, in some cases, our eyes either don’t produce enough tears or create inadequate tears.

Causes of Dry Eye

In most cases, dry eye is caused because of a lack of adequate tears. This does not just mean not enough tears are made. It can also mean that the tears made are not healthy or produced correctly.

  • Decreased Production: This is the more obvious cause. Your eyes are just unable to produce enough tears. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is the medical term for this condition.
  • Increased Evaporation: This is pretty straight forward. The tears in your eye evaporate far quicker than they are produced.
  • Inadequate Tear Composition: As we mentioned earlier, tears have three layers. The glands that create each layer may become blocked, thus leading to uneven or incorrect film layers.

There are many reasons for each of these causes happening, including:

  • Age: Dry eye is a natural part of the aging process.
  • Gender: Hormonal changes due to menopause, pregnancy, or oral contraceptives can cause it.
  • Medications: Antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications can all lead to dry eye.
  • Medical Conditions: Those with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid issues are more likely to have dry eye.
  • Environmental Factors: Wind, smoke, or dry climates can dry your eyes quicker.

Symptoms  

It is important to keep an eye out for these symptoms of dry eye:

  • Stinging, burning, or scratching feeling in your eyes
  • Stringy mucus in your eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Feeling like something is in your eyes
  • Trouble wearing contacts
  • Blurred vision

Treatment and Prevention

While dry eye is a chronic condition, there are still plenty of things your doctor can do to help you. First, you must get a comprehensive eye exam to find the cause of your issue. Then, your doctor may recommend these treatment options:

  • Adding Tears: Your doctor may recommend the use of over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. These are used as a replacement for natural tear production.
  • Conserving Tears: The point of this treatment is to keep more natural tear in your eyes for longer. Your doctor can do this by blocking the tear ducts tears normally drain through. They can also use a surgical procedure to permanently close these tear ducts.
  • Increase Production: Your doctor may prescribe you a tear solution that helps increase how much tears your eyes make on their own.

Dry eye is a common and uncomfortable condition the leaves your eyes feeling scratchy and irritated. While this condition is not inherently dangerous, if left untreated for too long, it can lead to damage to the cornea. If you are suffering from dry eye, contact First Eye Care North Arlington.

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