Dry Eye is one of the most common ocular surface problems seen by ophthalmologists today, with millions of people worldwide estimated to suffer from this condition.
Dry Eye Definition in Simple Words
It occurs when an individual does not produce enough tears or the composition of the tears is abnormal and cannot adequately cover the surface of the eye leading to discomfort and various secondary problems.
The tear film is an essential part for ensuring the overall health of the ocular surface. It cleanses, lubricates, and nourishes the surface of the eye as well as protecting it against infection. Both the quality and quantity of the tears must be maintained within certain levels to ensure a healthy and clear refractive surface essential for good vision.
Symptoms of Dry Eye
There are many symptoms associated with dry eye, the most common being:
– Grittiness or Sandy Feeling in the eyes
– Burning or Stinging sensation
– Itching and Scratchiness
– Soreness or Painful
– Foreign body sensation
– A feeling of Dryness
– Sensitivity to light
Home Remedies of Dry Eye
Management of dry eye is usually a combination of treatments and lifestyle changes that are tailored to the needs of an individual patient. Ophthalmologists believe that there are two main goals when addressing the treatment of dry eye patients. The primary aim is to alleviate symptomatic discomfort and then secondary is to prevent or reverse complications and further ocular surface damage that may cause a deterioration of vision.
While many find rapid relief using artificial tears, often this reprieve is short-lived with the patient having to use them up to eight to ten times per day. Indeed some artificial tears contain preservatives that may in fact exacerbate the problem and therefore it is often recommended that non-preservative tear supplements should be the first choice.
Some patients’ symptoms can be alleviated by applying warm moist compresses or heating pads to the skin of closed eyelids which allows easier release of lipids from the meibomian glands. Thermalon Dry Eye Compress is very convenient to use. Simply microwave it for about 20 seconds and apply to closed eyes for a few minutes for instant relief.
Eye Massager for Dry Eye
For maximum effectiveness this should be used in conjunction with warm compress. The best manual eye massager available online is Eyepeace. It is designed to take supporting research into consideration and create a massaging device which stimulates the Meibomian Gland to create tears.
If you like automated devices then Breo Electric Portable Eye Massager is a good choice for you. It is not only a massager but acts like a heat pad as well.
Dry Eye Humidifier
We recommend two humidifier options – one is for the day time and the other is for night time.
During the daytime, a table-top humidifier can be used to keep the surroundings moisturized. These humidifiers are good for scenarios where dry surrounding air contributes to dry eyes. They work very well in medium sized rooms and offices. Click here to see which one is best for your needs.
During night time when you are sleeping, wearable sleep masks can be used for dry eye relief. The cups of these masks rest on the bones surrounding the eye and create a chamber with moisture inside. Eyeseals Hydrating Sleep Mask is highly recommended for this purpose.
Surgery for Dry Eye
This option is reserved for those who have severe dry eye. Usually collagen, silicone or plastic plugs are used to to block the tear duct. These plugs may be removed after some time or they be left in place permanently. They block the drainage of residual tears from the tear ducts.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
– Adverse Environmental Conditions: Air conditioning, low humidity in airplanes, central heating, car heaters, windy weather and smoky environments can all cause tears to evaporate more quickly resulting in a feeling of irritated eyes.
– Looking at screens: Watching TV and looking at a Computer Screen for long periods of time.
– Contact lenses: Wearing them for long durations can cause dry eyes in many individuals.
– Hormones: Many women find that they experience dry eye symptoms on reaching the menopause.
– Medications: Such as anti-depressants and anti-histamines.
– Age: The incidence of dry eye increases with age due to the natural aging process.
– Blepharitis: Bacteria and inflammation of the lids can restrict the proper functioning of the meibomian glands that are involved in producing lipids essential for a healthy tear film.
– Sjögren’s Syndrome: This is an autoimmune disorder that affects the lacrimal gland that is responsible for normal tear production.
– Other causes of dry eye include chronic allergies and conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?
Accurate diagnosis of Dry Eye can be complicated and is often controversial amongst clinicians and researchers. This is because there is a wide variety of ocular surface assessments and clinical diagnostic tests currently available.
Some of the most common tests are:
Dry Eye Questionnaire: This helps the ophthalmologist to assess patient symptoms and correlate them with signs of tear film disorders. Use a free online dry eye questionnaire to find out immediately if you may have dry eye.
Physical Examination: The ophthalmologist will perform an assessment of the whole surface of the eye looking for signs of inflammation and meibomian gland disorders, which are often connected to tear film abnormalities.
Phenol Red Thread Test: A small thread which changes color from yellow to red when wet is placed into the lower conjunctival sac for 15 seconds to measure tear volume.
Schirmer Test: This is a simple test to measure tear production and is performed by placing a filter paper strip over lower eyelid for 5 minutes. The amount of tears absorbed into the paper in this time indicates whether there are enough or too little tears being produced.
Assessment of Tear Film Stability: Evaluation of the stability of the tear film is considered to be one of the most useful tools for the diagnosis of dry eye since an unstable and unrefreshed tear film is one of the most indicative signs of the presence of dry eye. The measurement of tear stability can be carried out by measuring the time in seconds between one complete blink and the first appearance of a discontinuity or dry spot in the fluorescein stained tear film. Many ophthalmologists consider the assessment of tear film stability by use of fluorescein to be the most important clinical diagnostic test available today.
Impression cytology to look at goblet cell numbers in the conjunctiva: The ophthalmologist takes a small sample of cells from the surface of the eye using a small piece of specialized filter paper. These cells that are collected on the paper can stained so the number of goblet cells can be counted. People with only a small number or even none of these cells usually have Dry Eye.
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