Centres of Excellence -> Ophthalmology -> Causes and treatment of dry eye syndrome

Causes and treatment of dry eye syndrome

What is dry eye syndrome and why does it occur?

Dry eye is a condition whose occurrence is increasing due to the modern way of life in which numerous environmental factors, such as environmental pollution, dry heated air or air-conditioned spaces, working for hours on the computer, wearing contact lenses and correction of refractive errors with refractive surgical procedures favor the development of this condition.

Likewise, chronic systemic diseases and conditions, such as Sjogren's syndrome, systemic lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, menopause, etc., can favor the development of dry eye. Medications such as diuretics, antihistamines, decongestants, ACE inhibitors, oral contraceptives, antidepressants, acne medications and opioid analgesics.

What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

Symptoms and signs are: redness, tearing, feeling of sand and cutting sensation in the eye, burning and itching of the eyes, whitish discharge, blurred vision after reading, watching TV or using the computer, sensitivity to wind, smoke or cold, eye fatigue. All age groups can be affected, starting from the age of 30.

How does dry eye occur?

Tears are made of three layers: fat, aqueous and mucous layer. In patients with dry eyes, the tear film is unstable due to the lack or thinning of one of the three layers. The fat layer is produced by the glands in the eyelids, smoothes the surface of the cornea and reduces the evaporation of tears.

Disorders such as inflammation of the eyelids and rosacea can cause reduced production of the fat layer and consequently, dry eye. The aqueous layer is produced by the lacrimal glands and enables the removal of waste materials from the eye. When the aqueous layer is thin, then the fat and mucous layers touch and the whitish, mucoid secretion characteristic of dry eye is produced. If the symptoms are present in the morning hours, it is about a disruption of the fat layer of the tear film, while the appearance of symptoms in the evening represents a disruption of the aqueous layer.

Diagnosis and treatment of dry eye syndrome

The diagnosis is made on a biomicroscope with tests that check the stability of the tear film: fluorescein test, TBUT (Tear Break Time Test), Schirmer test and expression of sebaceous glands. Treatment is carried out by lifestyle changes, warm compresses and massage, artificial tears, gels and ointments, suppositories for tear ducts and the latest, pulse laser.

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