Dry eyes are caused by tears not being able to keep the eyes moist. This may occur if you don’t produce enough tears or if they are not good quality. Your eyes will feel very uncomfortable and may even burn. When you are in a dry environment like an airplane or when you stare at a computer for an extended period of time, you may experience dry eye symptoms.
Poor Quality Tears
Tears are made of water, oil and mucus. The oils in your tears are made from fatty oils called lipids. If you don’t produce enough oil, the watery part of the tears will dry up quickly and lead to dry eyes. If your eyes do not have adequate amounts of water, the oil and mucus layers can mix and cause a gooey discharge. If you don’t have enough mucus, dry spots can form on the front of your cornea.
Lack of Tears
Some causes of dry eyes occur when you cannot produce enough of them. If you are postmenopausal, your hormones may cause a lack of tears. If you are older than 50, you may quit producing the amount of tears necessary to prevent dry eyes. If you had laser eye surgery, you may decrease tear production, although this is usually temporary. If you have had tear gland damage, it may also decrease the level of tears necessary to prevent dry eyes. Some medications also cause a lack of tears.
If you have a problem blinking, this may be the cause of your dry eye problem. Without proper blinking, the tears may not be dispersed over the entire eye. An out-turning or in-turning of the eyelids can cause this dry eye problem.
Dry Eye Complications
Although dry eyes are troublesome, they are not normally very serious of a problem. However, if dry eyes are left untreated you may obtain scarring of the surface of your cornea which will cause vision problems. You may also be prone to more eye infections, because the tears are not cleansing the eye.
There are several treatments for the condition of dry eyes. Some treatments are more serious than others depending on the severity of your condition. Antibiotics can be used to ensure eye infections are not a problem. These antibiotics will also reduce eyelid inflammation. There are also prescription eye drops that will control cornea inflammation and keep the eyes moist. They even have eye inserts that work just like artificial tears. They look like a grain of rice and are placed in between the lower eyelid and the eyeball. These eye inserts will dissolve throughout the day and keep the eyes moist.
Your doctor may decide to partially close your tear ducts to prevent drainage from your eyes and to keep tears in your eyes. These plugs are made from silicone and can be removed at any time. Another option is to cover the eyeball with a specially formulated contact lens, called a corneal shield. This shield will trap the moisture in your eye and prevent it from drying out. There is also a new treatment called LipiFlo which uses heat pulses to clear blocked oil glands. This will allow your eyelid to start producing oil again.
Regardless of the type of dry eyes you are suffering from, there should be a practical solution that works for you. There are even dry eye centers that can be of service with a variety of information available.