What Causes Dry Eyes & How Do You Treat It?

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what causes dry eyes

Every year millions of people report that they experience dry eyes, with those 50 years and older being more susceptible to the disorder. Symptoms of dry eyes may include a stinging, itching or burning sensation of the eye ranging from a slight irritation to a more painful level. But what really causes dry eyes, and how is it treated?

Dry eyes are generally defined as the inability to produce quality tears in enough volume to adequately lubricate the eye. As we age the composition of our tears can change causing a reduction in the production and quality. Although the reduction in the amount of tears produced can have an impact, the quality also plays a vital role. Tears are composed of a complex set of molecules other than water. These molecules are responsible for maintaining the high quality lubrication characteristics of tears. If the quality of tears diminishes they become more susceptible to evaporation which is a principle cause of drier eyes.

Causes of Dry Eyes
Other than the effects brought on by our normal aging process, dry eyes can also be caused by environmental conditions, autoimmune disorders, allergies, hormonal, medication or trauma from chemical or thermal burns. If left untreated a dry eye condition could damage the tissues of the cornea which could result in a change in vision.

Diagnosing Dry Eyes
To test for dry eyes your eye doctor may use a diagnostic instrument that magnifies the view of your eye in order to asses its overall physical condition. A doctor may also use special diagnostic dyes to determine the integrity and quality of the composition of the tears. Tears are composed of three main layers; an outer oily lipid layer that helps keep tears from evaporating too rapidly, a middle aqueous layer that consists of proteins and the watery portion of the tears that coats the entire front of the eye and the interior of the eyelids, and the most inner layer called the mucin layer which produces cells that binds the water found in the aqueous layer. Affecting the composition of any of these layers can adversely impact the lubrication ability of the affected eye(s).

Treating Dry Eyes
Mild forms of dry eye can be treated by using artificial tear drop solutions to help compensate for the reduction in the volume of naturally produced tears. For more severe cases of dry eye the following treatments might be considered.

  • Use of prescription drops in an effort to reduce inflammation of the eye.
  • Block tear ducts using specialized punctal plugs which serve to reduce or block the natural drainage of excessive tears from the eye; surgery can also be performed in order to achieve the same effect.
  • Increase the natural production of tears by using over the counter prescriptions for drops or supplements.

Dry eyes is a disorder that affects the quality of life of millions of people. By seeking out the appropriate care and obtaining proper diagnosis one can take a course of action that can limit or even eliminate the unpleasant affects of dry eyes.

National Eye Institute

For more information regarding dry eyes consider the articles below.

Bloodshot Eyes (Red Eyes) Causes and Treatments
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Although Bloodshot Eyes or Red Eyes are sometimes a result of conjunctivitis, there are many other causes that can render the same condition. As with other body organs, eyes, with the exception of their corneal tissue, contain blood vessels that transport oxygen and vital immunological cells that maintain eye health.

7 Helpful Tips to Prevent Dry Eyes
dry eyes

All contact lens wearers have experienced dry eyes at some point. The irritation, the burning and heavy squinting make getting through the day unbearable. One of the steps to take is to observe the situations you are in when this occurs, as a lot of the time dry eyes may be prevented when the appropriate steps are taken. Here are 7 helpful tips to avoid dry eyes:...


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