It is common, today, to find people glued to their mobile screens than ever before. This, among many other reasons, has led to an unprecedented increase in the number of Dry Eye cases, which is the most common problem in eye OPD patients.
Dry Eye can be defined as a collection of symptoms that make up an eye condition stemming from an imbalance in the quantity or quality of tears bathing the eye. Just to think of it, tears aren’t just for display of emotions. They play a much bigger role!
They are responsible for keeping our eyes healthy and providing us with a clear vision.
The condition of Dry Eyes can be identified through various symptoms. These symptoms include dry, red, gritty, and even watery eyes. Often, Dry Eye sufferers report the feeling of something foreign within the eye or eyestrain. This is again because of paucity of tear production which hinders proper lubrication of eyes and hydration of the cornea.
The balance of tear production and tear loss [through drainage and evaporation] maintains the moisture level in the eyes. When this balance is not sustained, dry spots appear on the surface of the eye and cause irritation.
A healthy eye constantly produces tears that lubricate. Excessive tears occur when a foreign body irritates the eye or when a person cries.
HOW CAN ONE KNOW THAT THEY ARE SUFFERING FROM THIS CONDITION?
Early signs of dry eye are:
1. An occasional burning sensation in the eyes when in areas of low humidity or high pollution
2. A gritty sensation in the eyes, which is persistent and painful
3. Decreased tolerance of contact lenses
4. In extreme cases of dry eye, patients may become unusually sensitive to light, experience severe eye pain, or notice diminished vision
5. Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
6. Eye irritation from smoke or wind
7. Excess tearing
In order to move towards a proper and effective treatment of this condition, it is important to understand how our eyes reach this condition.
There are many different things that cause dry eye syndrome. The normal aging of tear glands, as well as specific diseases and disorders, may cause changes in the amount and condition of tears produced.
Decreased sensitivity of the cornea can also lead to insufficient production of tears. Some types of contact lens wear can bring on this lack of sensitivity.
Excessive evaporation of tears can also cause dry eye syndrome. Such evaporation may be caused by meibomitis, which results from infection and inflammation of the meibomian glands in the eyelids.
People with unusually large eyes, as well as those who suffer from thyroid disease, may also experience dry eye syndrome caused by excessive evaporation.
Dry eye can also result from unusual facial anatomy or irregularities in the cornea, resulting in uneven or inadequate tear coverage of the eye.
HOW IS DRY EYE DIAGNOSED?
We are able to diagnose dry eye by examining the eyes. Sometimes tests that measure tear production may be necessary. One test, called the Schirmer tear test, involves placing filter-paper strips under the lower eyelids to measure the rate of tear production under various conditions. Another uses a diagnostic dye (fluorescein or Rose Bengal) to look for certain staining patterns.
HOW ARE DRY EYES TREATED?
Depending on the causes, Dry Eye Syndrome can be treated as a temporary problem or a lifelong disease requiring long-term treatment. Either way, tears must be conserved or replaced in order to provide relief.
Treatment by adding tears
Artificial tears are probably the most common forms of treatment for Dry Eye Syndrome. These Eye drops are similar to your own tears. They lubricate the eyes and help maintain moisture. Preservative-free eye drops are available if you are sensitive to the preservatives in artificial tears.
Latest Treatment by technology
A more efficient and long-lasting way of getting rid of this condition is the Lumenis M22 OPTTM Technology that promises to effectively provide relief to the patients from this tedious condition. The reason being it uses a unique combination of unique optimal pulse technology to treat dry and itchy eyes. This technology enables selective absorption of the pulse light in the haemoglobin of abnormal blood vessels and destroys them by thrombosis.
M22 OPT is the right choice for patients. It treats the root cause of the problem, provides immediate relief, safe and comfortable, fast “lunch time” treatment and improves the skin appearance too.
The 10 commandments to follow in order to avoid or not escalate the Dry Eye condition:
1. A person with dry eye should avoid anything that may cause dryness, such as an overly warm room, hair dryers, wind or a direct fan / air conditioner draft. Smoking is especially bothersome
2. Some people with dry eye complain of “scratchy eyes” when they wake up. Using an artificial tear ointment at bedtime can treat this symptom or just blink more
3. Wind, Dust, Smoke, Plant Pollen exposure is to be avoided
4. In case of Dry Air Exposure: (Heater / A.C. –both can affect), use glasses / Photochromic Goggles full-time.
5. Infrequent Blinking of Eyes is another thing you should avoid by reducing TV / Mobile / Computer Use
6. Regular use of goggles / sun-glasses / glasses helps to avoid exposure. Helmet Visor if Driving / riding scooter / two-wheeler. Avoid Car A/C or heater air at face.
7. Avoid medicines for High B.P. like Atenolol (AT), Clonidine, Metoprolol, Propranolol, Tenolol, Betaloc (Beta Blockers) – Consult physician for change
8. Avoid Eye drops with strong preservatives.
9. Do not wash eyes too frequently. Instead, cold compresses your eyes
10. Avoid Pain / Joint Pain medicines like: Ibuprofen/ Ketoprofen / Combiflam / Brufen / Indomethacin / Diclofenac / Voveran etc
Dr. Rohit Grover (MBBS, MS, MAMS) is an Ophthalmologist/Eye Surgeon in Chandigarh