Feeling like often overusing your eyes? Spending a long time staring at the digital screens? Dry, itchy, red, sensitive to the lights? If the answers are “yes”, you may be experiencing dry eye syndrome. Most people seem to understand dry eyes as an ocular manifestation. However, it can be a kind of eye disease as well. Through this article, we are going to know more about dry eye syndrome.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome, it’s also known as dysfunctional tear syndrome. The basic explanation of it is that dry eye syndrome happens when the eyes are not able to produce adequate tears to lubricate the eyes. The disease has a great impact on patient’s vision and their quality of life. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), in 2018, there are around 20 million people in the United States who have dry eye disease, and the quantity is still increasing gradually.
It’s hard to take serious of the disease at the beginning since the dry eye is also the performance of many other eye conditions, so people may not realize they have this specific eye disease. To some extent, the consequences of dry eye syndrome are underestimated. Burning, itchy, painful, and tearing…are just the preliminary performances of dry eye syndrome. In severe cases, this eye disease can even cause corneal damage and visual impairment.
Theoretically, the dry eyes definition points out that the tear film of dry eyes preserves instability and hyperosmolarity, and the ocular surface has inflammation and damage. The definition is published in the report of the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society Dry Eye Workshop II (TFOS DEWS II) in 2017, which further promoted the discussion and medical research of dry eye in ophthalmology.
What are the Causes and Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?
The causes and the symptoms are usually related tightly. Based on the thesis in the National Library of Medicine, in America, 3.2 million women over 50 and 1.68 million men over 50 are estimated to have dry eye disease. People over 50 years old make up the majority of the dry eye population and the number of women is beyond the group of men. Meanwhile, as people get older, dry eye syndrome is becoming more prevalent.
Gender and age are just two of the main causes of dry eyes. Furthermore, there are some other common causes:
- Certain diseases: Sjogren's syndrome, allergic eye disease, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, thyroid disease, lupus, Vitamin A deficiency, blepharitis, and so on.
- Certain medicines: beta-blockers, antihistamines, acne, decongestants, antidepressants, anxiety and antidepressant medicines, heartburn medicines, medicines for high blood pressure, and so on.
- Eyelids problems: such as ectropion
- Eye surgery: such as LASIK
- Low humidity: long-term exposure to dry air, wind, smoke
- Contact lens use: using contact lenses for a long time
- Excessive use of the eyes: reading, driving, or staring at the digital screens for too long
The common causes of the dry eyes can be mainly divided into two specific reasons, which are the decreased tear production and increased tear evaporation. From the above-listed items, we can tell that not only medical reasons but also bad lifestyles can cause dry eye syndrome. Corresponding to the different causes of dry eye syndrome, the symptoms of the disease also have a variety of manifestations.
Dry eye symptoms can vary in severity. Feeling a lack of water is not the only perspective of the dry eye symptoms, tearing a lot is also the way that the body responds to dry eye disease. The display of blurred vision can be noticeable when reading the text, sometimes the double vision situation occurs as well. The symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Burning, scratchy, and stinging eyes
- Blurred vision
- Feeling like something in the eyes
- Strings of mucus in or around the eyes
- Red eyes
- Eye fatigue
- Watery eyes
- Irritated eyes
- Being sensitive to the lights
The dry eyes can cause blindness in some special situations. Dry eye syndrome usually doesn’t lead to serious consequences like permanent vision impairment or blindness when it’s found and treated in time. Nevertheless, the cornea of the eyes can be damaged if the dry eye syndrome persists for a long time, which will affect the vision and cause blurred vision, and this kind of visual impairment could be irreversible. In this case, there is a possibility of blindness due to the blurred vision caused by corneal damage.
The effects of dry eyes can experience health complications and be long-term. The decline in the quality of life is the primary issue. It will get more and more uncomfortable when using the eyes, especially when reading or driving. This is just one of the many difficulties and inconveniences that dry eye disease can bring to everyday life. Eye infections that are complicated by the dry eyes lead to pathological problems. As tear production decreases, the eyes become more susceptible to infection.
How to Treat and Prevent Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye treatment makes more sense after figuring out what is the main cause of the dry eyes, and different etiologies will affect the choice of treatment options. For instance, if dry eye is caused by eyelids problems, then the eyelids surgery might be needed. For the dry eyes caused by certain diseases or medicines, treating the specific diseases and adjusting medicines should be the priority in this case. Of course, the best way to relieve dry eyes definitely is to talk to the eye doctors, and they always can provide professional recommendations.
The eye drops for dry eyes are the usual measure that doctors sometimes suggest for treating the condition. In addition, antibiotics, special contact lenses, and other particular treatment medicines are also available to patients from their doctors. The corresponding treatment of corneal damage appears to be at high risk since it’s the most serious cause of the dry eye syndrome. The majority of corneal transplants could be normally successful, but some may fail because the immune system rejects the implant.
To speak of the dry eye prevention, living a healthy lifestyle should be the most effective and low-cost way. Caring enough for your own body and eye health can avoid many diseases to a certain extent. There are reasons that are highly related to our daily habits when analyzing the causes of dry eyes. The hazards of the dry air, the wind, and the smoke could be avoided in the ways of wearing glasses, getting out on the windy days as little as possible, and staying away from the smoke area. Reducing the time of staring at the electronic screens may be hard, but you can try to blink more times or use the 20-20-20 rule for self-monitoring.
If searching online, you can tell that the dry eye home remedy also tends to give good lifestyle advice. The adequate sleep is the foundation of all the prevention, and the eyes can be rested thoroughly with enough sleeping time. It’s also important to increase the humidity of the room, and using a humidifier might overcome the discomfort of the eyes. More to know is that omega-3 fatty acids could promote the quality of the tears, which reduces the risk of having dry eye disease. Thus, cooking more fish dishes in your kitchen can also be a good choice.
The dry eye syndrome is something people shall take more attention to. The dry eye blurred vision may lead to the results such as vision loss, permanent visual impairments, and blindness if it’s not treated in time. It’s an obvious fact that dry eye disease would affect your life in various ways, not only your physical health but also the efficiency of your study or work. Being aware of what the dry eye syndrome is through this article, you might acquire more understanding and realize how to prevent it.