dry eyes

Dry eyes are, as the name implies, an eye dryness that can affect all ages, but predominantly in women, for hormonal reasons of menopause or pre-menopause.

Definition

Dry eyes are generally characterized by the lack of tear production by the lacrimal glands, which leads to dry eyes. Tears are mainly composed of water, oil and mucus.

Tears play an important role at the ocular level, as they act as a protective barrier and have a lubricating effect. Tears help maintain good vision.

Poor quality tears can also lead to dry eyes, especially if one of the components of the tear, such as oil or water (for example, in case of lupus ) is missing.

Epidemiology

In the United States, around 3.2 million American women suffered from dry eyes in 2017, according to the American magazine Prevention .

Causes

The causes of dry eyes can be:

– Hormonal alteration, especially in women during menopause , due to the decrease in estrogen concentration. After 50 years, according to a study published in 2003, 8% of Americans are affected by dry eye syndrome.

– The use of certain medications, such as antidepressants, anti-allergy agents, beta blockers, sleeping pills, pain medications (analgesics) or chemotherapy.

– Dermatological or cosmetic creams, including those used in the area around the eyes.

– External factors such as the use of air conditioning.

– Frequent exposure to computer screens, television, etc.

– Electric heaters.

– Sjögren’s syndrome , an autoimmune disease that especially affects the eyes (lacrimal gland).

– Other diseases that cause a lack of tears. Ex. : AIDS , tuberculosis , etc.

– Conjunctivitis

– The use of contact lenses

– Inflammation of the Meibomian gland

Symptoms

The main symptoms of dry eyes, in addition to dry eye, are:

– tingling

– burning

– feeling of having sand in the eye

– blurred vision, which often gets worse later in the day

– smoke or wind can aggravate the feeling of irritation

– difficulty or inability to wear contact lenses

– special sensitivity to light

– tear

Usually, both eyes are affected by dry eyes.

Some patients with dry eye syndrome find it difficult to drive at night because of disturbed vision.

Reading Difficulty and Dry Eye
Syndrome Dry eye syndrome causes reading speed to slow down, according to a study published by Johns Hopkins University Medicine in November 2018. Dry eye syndrome can reduce reading speed by 10% and make it difficult to read for more than 30 minutes. To reach these conclusions, the researchers studied 186 adults, most of whom had signs of dry eyes. All participants had to read texts and the researchers counted the number of words over a period of time. Scientists hypothesize that reading difficulties result from the inability to lubricate the eyes quickly. This study was published online November 15, 2018 in the journal Optometry Vision Science(DOI: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001303).

Also Read: Symptoms of Conjunctivitis

Complications

A long-term complication of dry eyes is keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea. The risk of losing vision due to this condition is very low or non-existent.

If dry eyes do not improve with conventional treatments (eg artificial tears, etc.), please consult a physician.

Treatments

The treatments used against dry eyes are mainly:

Treatment based on lubricating eye drops

– Moisturizing eye drops.

– Eye drops that stimulate the production of tears by the lacrimal gland.

Note that we also speak of artificial tears (in English: artificial tears ) to qualify eye drops.

There are also eye drops containing corticosteroids indicated in some cases of dry eyes. However, these medications can increase your risk of glaucoma and cataracts. There are also anti-inflammatory drugs on the market that are not based on corticoids, such as Restasis® or Xiidra® in the United States.

Once the eye drops have been instilled, close your eyes for a few seconds.

For more information about these eye drops, ask your doctor or pharmacist. It is particularly important to note the expiration date on the eye drop bottle (note the expiration date after opening), wash your hands before using the eye drops and not touch the eye with the tip of the eye drop drop.

Other treatments
– Ophthalmologists, specialists in dry eyes, have specific medications or treatments in advanced or severe cases. One possible treatment is the use of tears from your own serum.
– A tear duct obstruction technique, a small drain that connects the eyelid to the nose, can also be done. Blocking the drain increases the amount of tears that remain in the eyes.

Cleaning eyelids 
Sometimes during dry eyes, eyelids may be dirty mainly due to an accumulation of oily substances. In this case, it is possible to buy in the market (for example, pharmacies) products for cleaning the eyelids and the eye area. You can also use a washcloth or compress, soaked in warm water. Apply for 5 to 15 minutes, 2 times a day on the eyelids.

natural treatments

Intake of omega-3 can increase the production of oils in tears. Several studies have shown an improvement in the quality of tears with the ingestion of these fatty acids. Omega-3s (DHA and EPA) seem to help reduce the evaporation of tears.

Omega-3 can be found mainly in flaxseed ( Linum usitatissimum L.) , which is rich in essential fatty acids of the omega-3 type. Against dry eyes, it is recommended to consume 1 to 2 teaspoons of flaxseed oil a day.

Criticism of omega 3
However, a study published in 2018 showed that omega 3 from fish oil dietary supplements was no better than a placebo against ocular dryness (dry eyes). A total of 535 participants with at least a six-month history of moderate to severe dry eye participated in this study. Of the participants with dry eye, those who were randomly assigned to receive dietary supplements containing 3000 mg of n-3 fatty acids for 12 months did not perform significantly better than those who were assigned to receive a placebo. This study was published on April 13, 2018 in the New England Journal of Medicine (DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1709691).

See also: euphrasia eye bath (home remedy used primarily for tired eyes).

Tips

– Pay attention to air conditioning and fans, which can favor dry eyes. Try to stay away from air conditioners and fans.

– Avoid smoky and dry places.

– Try to reduce the time spent in front of the computer (because the frequency of blinking tends to decrease). If you have to work in front of a screen for long hours, take a regular 3-5 minute break, every hour for example. Try blinking during these pauses.

– In winter, try to humidify the environments (for example, adding a container with water in the heaters).

– Wear sunglasses during exposure to the sun and when it is windy.

– Drink plenty of water, preferably more than 1.5 L per day.

– Avoid rubbing your eyes.

– During menopause , dry eyes can be a common symptom, talk to your gynecologist to find the best treatment.
Drinking one or more cups of coffee a day can help combat dry eyes. This conclusion came from a study by Japanese researchers in Tokyo in 2012. They still don’t know the reasons for this effect.

– Blinking often can help to spread the tear film on the surface of the eye.

– If there is wind, wear goggles. Also put on goggles if you go swimming or diving.

– Eat foods rich in vitamin A , such as green leafy vegetables. Vitamin A helps to stabilize and repair the surface of the eye, which helps to better produce and retain tears.

Read also: menopause , conjunctivitis

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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