1. What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a common eye condition, in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision.
2. Why Tears are important for our eyes?
Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. When we blink, the tear film spreads evenly over the eye. This keeps the eye’s surface smooth and clear. The tear film is important for good vision.
3. How common Dry eye is in India & why is it important to know about Dry Eye?
- The prevalence of DED in India is higher than the global prevalence and it ranges from 18.4% to 54.3%, which means up to 2 to 5 people out of 10 might be suffering from dry eye.
- A large-scale study in India estimated that, based on current incidence rates, nearly half of India’s urban population is likely to be affected by dry eye disease by 2030, making it a big health concern.
- Even rural India is likely to see 1.7 Crore new dry eye patients every year. ∙ Men were noted to be at higher risk in their twenties or thirties, while women were more vulnerable in their forties and fifties.
- Dry eye disease not only affects the patient’s vision but also disturbs their quality of life, causing anxiety and depression, often affecting their professional productivity.
- Moreover, dry eyes, at times, can be associated with medical conditions, which if neglected can lead to irreversible visual impairment and blindness.
- However, if detected early and treated appropriately, patients can lead a normal life.
4. What are the causes of Dry Eye?
- Dry eye is a multifactorial condition, meaning multiple factors can cause Dry eye.
- Age. Dry eyes are a part of the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.
- Gender. Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of medicines and menopause.
- Medications. Certain medicines can reduce tear production.
- Medical conditions. People with certain medical problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes.
- Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.
- Environmental conditions: Exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms.
- Occupational conditions: Failure to blink regularly, when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.
- Other factors. Long-term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes.
- Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.
5. How do I know if I have Dry eye? What are its symptoms?
- You feel like your eyes are stinging and burning.
- Blurred vision, especially when reading
- There is a scratchy or gritty feeling like something is in your eye.
- There are strings of mucus in or around your eyes.
- Your eyes are red or irritated. This is especially true when you are in the wind or near cigarette smoke.
- It is painful to wear contact lenses.
- You have lots of tears in your eyes. Having a lot of tears in your eyes with dry eyes might sound odd. But your eyes make more tears when they are irritated by dry eyes.
6. What shall I do to reduce the symptoms of dry eyes?
You can take the following steps to reduce symptoms of dry eyes:
- Remember to blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for long periods of time.
- Increase the humidity in the air at the workplace and at home.
- Wear sunglasses outdoors, particularly those with wraparound frames, to reduce exposure to drying winds and the sun.
- Nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids may help decrease dry eye symptoms in some people. Ask your doctor if taking dietary supplements could help your dry eye problems.
- Avoiding becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of water (8 to 10 glasses) each day. ∙ Avoid air getting blown in your eyes by directing car heaters away from your face.
- Avoid environments that are drier than normal, such as deserts, airplanes, and places at high altitudes.
7. When to see a doctor for dry eyes?
See your health care provider if you’ve had prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eyes, including red, irritated, tired or painful eyes.