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Dry Eyes

Dry Eyes

 

Your eyes don’t produce tears just when you cry. Tears are constantly being produced to lubricate and cleanse the eyeball while protecting against infection. Tears are made up of a combination of water, oil and mucus that spreads across the eye every time you blink. Dry eyes occur when your tears don’t provide adequate moisture for your eyes. It can be mild or chronic and vary in severity.  

 

Symptoms  

Dry eyes can affect anyone of any age. Symptoms of dry eyes include itching, irritation and a feeling of grittiness inside the eyelid. Over time, chronic dry eyes can lead to damage on the surface of the eyeball. People who suffer from dry eye also find it difficult or uncomfortable to wear contact lenses.      

 

Causes  

Some people don’t have the correct tear composition while others may find that they are unable to produce enough tears to lubricate the eye. Other factors that can lead to dry eye include:  

  • Older age - as you age, tear production naturally diminishes,      
  • Menopause - the hormonal changes seen during and after menopause is thought to have a negative affect on tear production,      
  • Medical conditions - some medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders and Vitamin A deficiency have all been associated with drying out the eye,      
  • Medications - some blood pressure, antihistamine and/or antidepressant medications may increase the risk of developing dry eye,    
  • Environment - being inside an air-conditioned room or outside in windy or high glare conditions can cause dry eyes, and      
  • Lack of blinking - performing tasks that require a lot of concentration that result in less blinking, such as working on a computer, reading or driving may also exacerbate dry eye.  

 

Treatment  

There are some factors that cause dry eye that cannot be changed such as age or menopause. As yet, there is currently no cure for dry eye, however there are many options to minimising symptoms such as:  

  • Making a conscious effort to blink more - this could mean that you give your eyes a break and schedule in time away from reading, working on a computer or being in direct sunlight,      
  • Eye lubricants - your health care professional can prescribe some general drops that act as artificial tears to moisturise your eyes and alleviate symptoms,    
  • Treat the underlying issue - if your dry eyes are caused by certain medical conditions or medications, your health care professional may be able to advise alternative treatment options, and      
  • Eye plugs and/or surgery - for more severe cases of dry eye, eye plugs or surgery that target tear ducts to reduce the amount of tears that are recycled and wasted can be an option to keep tears in the eye.  

 

Disclaimer  

The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.   Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.      

 

Sources  

Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Dry_eye

Mayo clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/basics/definition/con-20024129

 

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