Dry eyes occur if there is an unevenness or shortage in the tears or if the tears rapidly evaporate. The eye requires a tear film to provide continuous moisture and lubrication to maintain comfort and vision. The components tears are comprised of are released by specialized glands found around the eye.
Once tears could not properly lubricate the eyes properly, it can cause the following:
- Burning sensation
- Pain or discomfort
- Gritty sensation or sensation of a foreign object in the eye
- Blurred vision
What are the causes?
In most cases of dry eyes, it is accompanied by chronic swelling in the tear glands lining the eyelid and in the conjunctiva. Once there is chronic inflammation, it can damage the tear gland tissues permanently to a point where treatment is no longer effective.
Aside from the disproportion in the tear-flow system in the eye, dry eyes can be triggered by desiccation of the tear film. This is aggravated by dry air from air conditioning, heat as well as other environmental circumstances.
Management of dry eyes
If dry eyes are caused by an underlying condition, it must be treated to relieve the dry eyes.
Some of the commonly used treatment options for dry eyes include:
- Artificial tears and ointments – this is a palliative option that eases the symptoms for a few minutes but will not treat the underlying cause. If the dry eyes are considered chronic, the drops must be used even if the eyes feel fine to keep it lubricated. At night time, a thicker lubricant can be used such as an ointment.
- Topical cyclosporine A drops – this medication is given 2-4 times in every eye to deal with the causal tenderness in the tear glands to increase the production of good quality tears. In most cases, it takes 1-4 months until the drops can lessen the symptoms of dry eyes.
- Temporary punctal occlusion – oftentimes it is needed to seal the ducts that drain the tears from the eye. This is a painless process in which a plug is introduced into the tear drain in the inferior eyelid.
- Permanent punctal occlusion – in case the brief plugging of the tear ducts works efficiently or believed to be vital for the overall health of the eye, silicone plugs can be utilized. These plugs hold tears around the eyes if they are in place.