What is Dry Eyes Syndrome?
Also known as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, this problem is faced mostly by elderly women. Although this is not a disease per se, it is a frustrating symptom complex. Lachrymal glands secrete tears which serve to reduce friction between the eyelid and the eyeball and help in keeping the cornea and the conjunctiva
soft and supple. Blinking helps to spread these tears on to the exposed part of the eyeball as an even tear film.
What are the causes of this eye disorder?
The three important causes of dry eyes are mentioned below, along with the sub – causative factors.
Reduced function of Lachrymal glands, due to:
• Hereditary factors
• Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder with varied symptoms like dry eyes, dry mouth, recurrent dental caries and reduced renal function in some cases)
• Drugs used to treat certain diseases like glaucoma
Excessive evaporation of tears, due to:
list of 2 items
• Hot dry climate· reduced blinking
• Exposure Keratitis (Inflammation of cornea due to reduced eyelid functioning)
Conjunctival or corneal damage, due to:
• Injury (burns)
• Infections such as Blepharitis, Conjunctivitis, Keratitis, etc.
• Vitamin A deficiency, Trachoma
• Unhygienic contact lens usage
• Post-LASIK surgery
Oral contraceptive or hormone replacement therapy are risk factors for development of dry eyes.
What are the signs and symptoms?
• Dryness of eyes
• Sandy/scratchy feeling in the eyes
• Foreign body sensation in the eyes
• In severe cases, persistent discomfort on exposure to light (photophobia), difficulty in moving the eyelids, and thick stringy discharge from the eyes
due to chronic irritation
How is it diagnosed?
The tear film can be inspected at the slit lamp (biomicroscope) by the ophthalmologist. A dye such as fluorescein may be placed in the eye to make the tear
film more visible. Your health care provider may do a Schirmer’s test, measuring the rate of tear production using a calibrated paper wick placed on the
edge of the eyelid.
How is it treated?
Treatment depends on the cause. In most cases, corneal and conjunctival conditions are reversible.
The best available modality of treatment is, ‘Artificial Tears’ which usually contains methylcellulose or polyvinyl alcohol. These are currently available
in the market with names like Liquifilm, Isopto, Hypotears, Biotears etc. All these preparations may be used every half hour but in most of the cases their
use may be sufficient 4-6 times a day. Generally these preparations are safe and without any side effects but sometimes the preservatives added to Artificial
tears may cause allergic symptoms in frequent users.
There are a few other options like Physiological saline solution(0.9%); Balanced salt solution; Petrolatum Ointment (Lacri Lube).Any diagnosed eye infection
must be vigorously treated by antibiotics.
Are there any precautionary measures?
Some cases of Dry Eyes are absolutely preventable. Mentioned below are certain precautionary measures:
• On a daily routine, intake of eight to ten glasses of water is recommended
• Washing the eyes with clean, cold, running water four to six times a day.
• Using proper eye-wear (goggles, glasses) while driving bikes, especially in summers.
• Contact lens users must maintain necessary hygiene and follow their enzyme regimens carefully and meticulously.