Dry eyes is a common condition that isn’t serious if it is treated properly. However, it can cause soreness, irritation and discomfort, and having dry eyes may affect a person’s daily life. Dry eyes occur when there is not enough tear production to adequately lubricate the eyes. It’s more common in older women, however, men are also prone to eye dryness over the age of 50. Age is one of the main causes of this condition, although long term exposure to computer screens is a modern cause of dry eyes, particularly in younger people.
If dry eyes are left untreated it can lead to complications such as your eyes becoming exposed to infections as there isn’t enough tears to protect the eyes. Keeping your eyes lubricated with protective tears is so important for the health of the eye. You can use eye lubrication which work as artificial tears or try to reduce your time spent on digital devices and in dusty environments.
“Many people suffer from dry eyes from time to time and usually some simple lubrication can help keep your eyes hydrated and relieve the uncomfortable symptoms. For some, dry eyes can be a side effect of some medications or health conditions and you should see your GP if you’re suffering from permanent eye dryness. You can also keep your eyes lubricated by reducing your time spent on digital devices and resting your eyes regularly.”
Dry eyes is a common problem faced by most people at some point in their life and although it isn’t serious it can be irritating and uncomfortable. When the eyes are not adequately lubricated they become dry. To lubricate the eyes, tears are released which contain water, salt, oils and mucus, and are even antibacterial as they contain lysozymes to fight bacterial infections. Lubricating the eyes with tears is so important for vision, comfort and the health of the eye.
There are three types of tears which all help the health of the eye and the rest of the body and these include, basal tears which lubricate the cornea and keep irritants out of the eye such as dust, and can also fight bacterial infections. Basal tears are released continuously to keep the eyes hydrated at all times. Reflex tears occur occasionally and are triggered by an irritation which has entered the eye such as dust particles or being in the presence of a strong substance such as perfume, and to relieve the discomfort and remove irritants, a large amount of reflex tears are released. Emotional tears are the third type and are brought on by feelings of stress, pain, anger, sadness or grief, as well as happy emotions.
Lack of tears or quality of tears can cause problems with the eyes, most commonly, dry eyes. When the eyes are dry they will feel scratchy and may sting or burn, other symptoms include:
- Stringy mucus around the eyes
- Pain and discomfort
- Redness of the eyes
- A feeling that you have something lodged in your eye
- Watery eyes
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
What causes dry eyes?
As we see an increase in the number of people with dry eyes, modern technology is the culprit. Spending long periods of time staring at a computer screen without taking regular intervals can really affect your eyes. Looking back and forth at the computer and flicking between different digital devices can put strain on your eye muscles, not to mention the blue light and glare from screens which can also cause eye problems.
Studies have been carried out on the effects of staring at computer screens on the eyes and how this can lead to dry eye syndrome by changing the tear fluid. Focusing on screens for a long period of time means our eyes are open more as we blink less, which may lead to tears evaporating quicker and less lubrication for the eyes. Digital devices are becoming one of the leading causes of common eye problems.
Age is another cause of dry eyes. As we get older our eyes naturally deteriorate and dry eye syndrome is more common over the age of 50, particularly in women after the menopause as hormones can also be a cause of dry eyes. Although both men and women have a decrease in tear production as they age, women are more prone to dry eyes, and low levels of estrogen and androgens after the menopause is thought to be the reason for this.
The environment can also impact the condition of our eyes. If you spend a long time in an air-conditioned or heated environment this can dry eyes and cause irritation. Windy, cold, dry or dusty environments can dry eyes out and cause irritating particles to enter the eyes.
Certain medications and health conditions can also lead to to this condition. Medications such as antidepressants or blood pressure drugs can sometimes cause the eyes to become dry. Antihistamines can also have this effect on the eyes as they stop allergy symptoms such as watery eyes which may have an opposite effect and cause less tear production.
Health conditions which affect the eyes and can cause dryness include blepharitis, Sjogren's syndrome, and lupus. Blepharitis causes inflammation and redness to the edges of the eyelids. Sjogren's syndrome affects the part of the body that produces fluid such as tears and saliva, and lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body, and so can affect the eyes. Many people who have lupus also have Sjogren's syndrome.
Are there complications of dry eyes?
Although dry eye syndrome is not a serious condition and can be treated, if it is left untreated it can lead to more serious problems. Tears are so important for the eyes as they protect the surface. Without enough tear production or quality of tears your eyes are more exposed to infections. Leaving the eyes unprotected can also lead to inflammation, abrasions of the cornea, corneal ulcer, and problems with eyesight.
What treatments are available for dry eyes?
Fortunately, dry eyes can be treated easily with medications or there are some things you can do yourself to keep your eyes lubricated. It’s important to keep your eyes clean when they’re dry as there aren’t enough tears to protect them. You should also rest your eyes regularly and take breaks away from the computer screen, keep the computer at eye level or below to avoid straining your eyes. If you’re spending large amounts of time in a dry, air-conditioned or heated room, try using a humidifier to prevent your eyes becoming dry. Also try to reduce the amount of time you spend in this type of environment.
Contact lenses can also cause eye dryness and discomfort, so try to switch to glasses if you can. If you have dry eyes and are a smoker you should also quit smoking and stay clear of anyone who is smoking around you as this can irritate the eyes.
If all these treatments have not worked and you are still suffering from dry eyes you may need the aid of an eye lubricant. Ilube is a product that relieves symptoms of dry eyes. Ilube are eye drops which contain the ingredient, acetylcysteine. They act as artificial tears and relieve symptoms by breaking down mucus and lubricating the eye.
You can buy eye lubrication online at Doctor-4-U which is a fast, reliable and safe service meaning you can have relief for your eye dryness in no time.