Dry eye syndrome is probably the most common issue among all the eye problems.
A recent Harris Poll indicated that at least 33 million adults in United States are affected with dry eyes.
What distinct dry eyes from other eye problems is the lack of adequate amount of lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye.
Dry eyes also are described by the medical term, keratitis sicca, which generally means decreased quality or quantity of tears.
It may not feel so but our tears are very important for the well-being of our eyes.
Tears are made up of oil, water, and mucins (heavily glycosylated proteins) and they serve a protective function.
Like the water on the windshield, they keep the eyes clear and wash away debris that gathers on the surface of the eye.
This includes bacteria, foreign objects and irritating chemicals that can damage the cornea.
Moreover, tears contain antibodies to prevent infection.
They also contain enzymes that neutralize the microorganisms that colonize the eye.
The result of having not enough tears in your eyes is an uncomfortable feeling of constant irritation and feeling of sting or itchy around your eyes.
Dry eye syndrome is not a considered a disease but a group of symptoms that develop as a result of another condition.
For example, it can be due to allergy or environmental factors such as low humidity.
In order to understand the dry eyes, we must first understand the function and components of the tear film.
The tear film is made up of three layers.
Outer oily layer (lipid layer) - This layer is produced by meibomian glands. Its primarily purpose is to reduce tear evaporation
Middle watery layer (aqueous layer) - The thickest layer which is made up of very dilute saltwater solution.
This layer is produced by the lacrimal glands in the eyelids and it’s function is to keep the eye moist and washes away foreign particles or irritants.
Defects of the aqueous layer are the most common cause of dry eye syndrome, also referred to as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS)
Inner layer - The thinnest layer which is made up of mucin (or mucus) produced by the conjunctiva. The mucus helps the watery layer to spread evenly over and stick to the surface of the eye.
Dry eye syndrome can affect any of these layers.
If you are experiencing any of the following, you may be experiencing DES.
It may sound contradictory, but excessive tearing may happens as dryness on the surface of your eyes will sometimes over-stimulate production of tears as a protective mechanism.
If you have dry eyes, it means that your tear film isn't functioning properly.
It can be due to one of the followings:
Insufficient Tear Production
Excessive Tear Evaporation
Abnormality In The Production Of Mucus
Insufficient Lipid Layer
Dry eyes can be pain in the ass which may requires you to dutifully apply eye drops every hour.
Other than the inconveniences caused, if left untreated, the lack of tears can lead to several complications such as:
Currently, there are no cure for dry eye as dry eye isn’t a disease itself. Instead several treatments are available for the symptoms.
For more information, check out my article on the types of dry eye treatment available.
It is important to know that the conventional methods act mainly to alleviate the symptoms. They can’t cure your dry eye symptom most of the time.
Moreover, some of them are expensive and creates recurring costs.
They are just not natural.
Many symptoms of the dry eyes can be relieve by just making simple changes to your lifestyle.
In my article on Remedies for dry eyes, I had shared 17 safe and effective ways which you can provide instant relief and possibly stops the symptoms from coming back once and for all.
Always use medical approaches as your last resort.
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