Tears do more than express emotions during your favorite Nicholas Sparks movie, they also clean and moisturize your eyes.
approximately 16 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with a condition known as dry eye disorder that causes them to not produce enough tears or to produce tears too quickly. And it is more common in women, especially around menopause. If you have dry eye disorder, you may notice that you wake up in the morning with dry, gritty, red, and irritated eyes. Dry eyes can also cause your vision to be blurry. Fortunately, there are treatment options that can help.
What is dry eye disorder?
Every time you blink, tears spread over the surface of your eye, lubricating, cleaning, and keeping your vision clear. That is the tear film of the body that has three layers: the outer oily layer, the middle watery layer and the inner mucous layer.
If you don’t produce enough tears or if they evaporate too quickly, you could have dry eyes. Although everyone may experience dry eyes occasionally, dry eye disorder is a medical condition that can be chronic, meaning it lasts a long time.
exist two types of dry eye disorder and most people have a combination of both.
- Dry eye evaporator: In this type, it produces enough tears, but the oily outer layer that prevents the tears from evaporating too quickly is insufficient.
- Dry eye with water deficit: This type means that you do not produce enough tears to adequately moisturize your eye.
What are the symptoms of dry eye disorder?
Dry eye disorder can make you feel like you have sand or something else in your eyes. Aside from the scratch-like sensation, you might also notary:
- Redness, itching, or burning
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision (especially when reading)
- Vision changes
- Constant pain or pain specifically when wearing contact lenses.
- Mucoid filaments in or near the eye
- crying eyes
What are the risk factors for dry eye disorder?
There are certain factors that you cannot control that may put you at higher risk for dry eye disorder, such as being over 50 years old or being assigned female at birth.
Other risk factors may include:
- Use of contact lenses
- Medicines such as diuretics (medicines that make it easier to pass urine), flu and allergy medicines, and some antidepressants.
- History of certain eye or other disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes, and Sjögren’s syndrome.
- Staring or focusing on something for long periods of time without blinking, such as while reading a book
- Excessive use of screens
- Having LASIK eye surgery [Queratomileusis in situ con láser] or for cataracts
- Cosmetic stories like false eyelashes
- Living in dry, windy climates or being around smoke
- Some people think there might be some connection between dry eye and headaches. United Nations 2021 study demonstrated that there could be a link between people with dry eye and migraine episodes.
How is dry eye disorder diagnosed?
To be diagnosed with dry eye disorder, you might visit a doctor. ophthalmologist or optometrist, doctors who specialize in treating eye disorders, and undergo a comprehensive eye test. This includes examining your eyes and how you blink, as well as questions about the medications you take and whether you have had other medical conditions.
Your ophthalmologist could do some tests, including:
- Try a slit lamp: This is to check if your eyes are producing tears properly.
- Schirmer test: Use a small piece of paper held against your lower eyelid so your doctor can see how many tears wet the paper.
- Tear breakup time (TRL) test: This test assesses how long your tear film remains in your eyes after you blink.
How can you manage or treat dry eye disorder?
- Non-prescription options: Artificial tears, gels, ointments, and eyelid cleansing solutions may provide relief from some DED symptoms. [Trastorno de ojo seco].
- Prescription medications: They can treat dry eye by reducing swelling or encouraging tear production.
- Silicone plugs: Your doctor may recommend placing silicone plugs in your tear ducts to keep tears in your eyes longer.
- Special contact lenses: Wearing special contact lenses can be helpful to protect the eye.
- In-office procedures: Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapyIn-office warming and expression of the oil glands can be helpful in opening the glands in the eye so that the oil can better escape to lubricate the eye.
You might also consider asking your eye doctor about supplements or vitamins for dry eyes, such as:
If you wake up with dry eyes or notice that you frequently have dry eyes, talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. Receiving a diagnosis can help you start treatment as soon as possible.
This educational resource was prepared with the support ofMore real. More substance. Viatris eye care division YouTube channel.