Dry eyes are a common complaint

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Dry Eyes

Introduction to Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are caused by the inability of the body to produce a film of tears over the ocular surface of the eyeball. This very common disorder is called dry eye syndrome and tear film dysfunction. It is a common ocular disease that can occur at any age. It is unknown if it is caused by allergies. It is known to be caused by foreign objects in the eye and intolerance to contact lenses. Dry eyes can also be triggered by the use medications.

Dry Eye Definition

Dry eye simply means that you are experiencing insufficient tear formation. This causes irregularities to the surface tension of the tears that line your eyeballs. The result is an itchy or uncomfortable condition for the person suffering from the dry eye syndrome. The person may also feel like there is a foreign object in the eye or feel actual pain in the eyeball if the feeling of dryness extends for a long duration of time.

Dry Eye Syndrome and Allergy

The three main defects that are thought to cause dry eye syndrome are improper tear composition, lack of tear evaporation or abnormality in the composition of the tears. The latter is usually due to an imbalance in tear components such as mucin or lipids. It is uncertain why the composition of tears would suddenly become unbalanced in composition and then achieve the opposite of what tears were meant for – lubricating the eye!

Several factors can cause dry eyes. First of all you are more prone to contracting the condition if you are female. Dry eyes are also the result of chronic medication use or hormone replacement therapy. If the surface of your eye is inflamed for any reason you can also suffer from tear film dysfunction. All kinds of factors can cause eye inflammation including wearing contact lenses and dust and other foreign objects in the eye.

Twice as many women than men are likely to experience dry eyes. The disorder is also more common in women who are over fifty-one years of age. Research on dry eyes have revealed that sixty percent of sufferers of dry eye tend to be over fifty years of age. Only sixteen percent of those people had severe to moderate symptoms and the rest tended to experience a mild case of dry eyes.

You are also more prone to dry eye symptoms if you have a history of gout, arthritis or of using antidepressants or corticosteroids. If you have had atopy or any kind of contact dermatitis around the eye you are also more prone to developing the disorder.

Air conditioning and heating systems in large corporate buildings can also cause the itchiness and dryness associated with ocular tear film problems. Too much exposure to a dusty environment can also be problematic and cause dry eyes. Many studies have shown that the dust in offices can cause serious symptoms.

Treatments for a Dry Eye

Dry eye treatments have progressed recently so that many find sufficient relief from their symptoms.

  • Usually all that is required is to cure the underlying eye problem that may be causing the dryness in the first place. In some cases, the doctors may need to treat the eyelid diseases, or have to modify the environmental conditions of the ocular surface in order to cure the dryness of the eyes.
  • In Japan heat is applied to the eye to bring improvements to the dry eye. It can help dissuade the breaking up of the tear film.
  • Over the counter teardrops can relieve itching by providing moisture to the eye surface. The chemicals in the drops bond with the patient's tear layer to prevent it from breaking up and causing the itchiness of dry eyes. Recently, a new supplement has been developed, which contains demulcents and polymers that can help protect the ocular surface.
  • The first and only therapy to be approved by FDA for suffers from dry eye is a topical emulsion called cyclosporine. This particular medication reduces inflammation and soothes the lacrimal glands that are no longer producing tears for the sufferer.
  • New research is attempting to produce tear substitutes out of substances like colostrum.
  • Oral cyclosporine A (CsA), is used in treatment of severe dry eye. This is a topical treatment with few side effects that is considered safe for most people.

The bonus effect of treating dry eye is that it can also help relieve the itchiness that is associated with allergies.