Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome - Tear Film Dysfunction

Dry eye is a syndrome that happen when the combination of moinsture, lubrication and infection resistance, failed in your tear system. The perfect balanced of this combination makes the precise tear, that maintain vision and give comfort in your eyes. Tears are a combination of water, oils, mucus, antibodies and proteins. These components are secreted by special glands located around the eye. These two glands are called (Large Lacrimal Gland and Accessory Lacrimal Gland).

Accessory Lacrimal Glands: are a set of small glands located in the upper eyelid and are responsible for continuously moisturizing the surface of the eye.

Large Lacrimal Gland:  This gland is mainly responsible for emergency flushing of the eye, for instance, when we have a foreign body in the eye or when we cry. This gland is NOT responsible for continuous hydration of the surface of the eye.

The tears usually moisturize the surface of the eye and then drain to the nose through the Nasal lacrimal duct and are swallowed afterward.  That’s why most of the time when we cry we sniffle and that’s why many times we can taste the drops when we use them in the eye.

Sometimes, a person with a dry eye will have excess tears running down the cheeks, which may seem confusing. This happens when the eye isn't getting enough lubrication. The eye sends a distress signal through the nervous system for more lubrication. In response, the eye is flooded with tears from the back-up gland (called Lacrimal Gland) to try to compensate for the underlying dryness. However, these tears are mostly water and do not have the lubricating qualities or the rich composition of normal tears. They will wash debris away, but they will not coat the eye surface properly.

When the tears are not the quality that our eyes require, the person may experience:

* Itching.
* Redness.
* A gritty sensation.
* A feeling of a foreign body or sand in the eye.
* Pain around the eye.
* Light sensitivity.
* Blurring of vision.
* Fluctuation of vision.
* Eye fatigue following reading or use of computer.
* Runny eyes in windy conditions.

Note that these symptoms may not always be there and may fluctuate with environmental changes.

Although dry eyes cannot be cured, there are a number of steps that can be taken to treat them. You should discuss treatment options with your doctor. Treatments for dry eyes may include:

* Drink plenty of water to keep the body moisturized.
* Minimize periods in certain weather conditions like windy and dry weather.
* Protect the eyes from harsh weather conditions like wind and dust.
* Make sure medication is not causing dry eyes.
* Eat healthy food containing eye nutrients especially vitamin A, C, and E
* When watching TV, using the computer or other eye straining activities, take frequent breaks and blink often.
* People who wear contact lenses should take them out and keep eyes well hydrated.
* Get enough sleep to keep eyes healthy.

Artificial tear drops and ointments. The use of artificial teardrops is the primary treatment for dry eye. Artificial teardrops are available over the counter. No single drop works for everyone, so you may have to find the drop that works for you. If you have chronic dry eye, it is important to use the drops even when your eyes feel fine, to keep them lubricated. If your eyes dry out while you sleep, you can use a thicker lubricant, such as an ointment, at night.

Temporary punctal occlusion. Sometimes it is necessary to close the ducts that drain tears out of the eye. This is done via a painless short procedure where a plug that will dissolve quickly is inserted into the tear drain of the lower eyelid. This is a temporary procedure, done to determine whether permanent plugs can provide an adequate supply of tears.

Permanent punctal occlusion. If temporary plugging of the tear drains works well, then silicone plugs (punctal occlusion) may be used. The plugs will hold tears around the eyes as long as they are in place. They can be removed. Rarely, the plugs may come out spontaneously or migrate down the tear drain. Many patients find that the plugs improve comfor.

If you experience dry eye syndrome and you are you seriously considering LASIK eye surgery, consider that dry eye is one of the most common side effects on LASIK eye surgery, please discuss it with your eye doctor before the procedure.

Page updated January 11, 2010