When tears don’t lubricate the surface of the eyes properly, dry eyes occur. Insufficient quantity or quality of tears leads to irritation and inflammation on the eye, causing damage to its surface.
What are the symptoms of dry eyes?
- Blurry vision
- Watery eyes
- Burning sensation
- Foreign body sensation
- Light sensitivity
- Mucosal eye discharge
- Trouble driving at night
- Eye fatigue
What are the causes of dry eyes?
Dry eyes interfere with the tear film, which comprises three essential layers: aqueous fluid, oils and mucous. These layers keep the surface of the eye clear and wet, and issues with any of these can lead to dry eyes.
Autoimmune disorders, allergic eye disease, high tear evaporation and hormonal conditions increase the risk of dry and watery eyes. Untreated, dry eyes lead to complications like damage to the corneal surface, infection, vision loss, ocular ulcers and, as a result, a poor quality of life.
How do you diagnose dry eyes?
The cause of dry eyes will be determined by a detailed eye exam. A slit-lamp examination with fluorescein height testing or Schirmer testing can assess the production of tears. For a Schirmer test, strips of paper are placed beneath the lower lids to soak up tears and test its production rate.
We can also test the quality of tears using specific dyes within drops to test the condition of the eye's surface. Tear quality is determined by corneal staining patterns and the time it takes for tears to evaporate.
How do you treat dry eyes?
When treating dry eyes, there are several options available. Eye drops reduce inflammation and stop the secretion of oils into tears, while certain medications help stimulate tear production. Treatment usually comes in the form of gels, pills and drops.
New contact lenses can also minimise the effects of dry and watery eyes. A special bandage or scleral lenses safeguard the eye's surface by capturing moisture. Light and thermal therapy also relieves symptoms of dry eyes within hours after treatment. For severe dry eyes, there are certain surgical procedures that can be of benefit.
“Vision is the true creative rhythm”
- Robert Delaunay