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Dry eye syndrome occurs due to deficiency of sufficient lubrication or moisture on the surface of the eye which protects the eye from several infections and inflammation problems. It can happen when your eye is not producing enough lubrication or the produced moisture is evaporated too quickly.

A normal human blinks 15-20 times in a minute and more than 1200 times an hour. The fluid maintains the surface moisture so it does not cause inflammation when the eye blinks.

Dry Eyes Symptoms

There are many symptoms of dry eyes. A common symptom that most people experience is a feeling that triggers when you rub your eyes constantly. Other symptoms include:

  • Heavy eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Aching sensations
  • Burning sensation
  • Fatigue eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Photophobia
  • Dryness sensation
  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision

Causes

Dry eyes are caused due to less adequate tears. The tears in your eye comprise a mixture of fatty oils, mucus and water. Protecting your eyes against infections, this complex fluid keeps the surface of your eye smooth.

In many people, dry eyes occur due to deficiency of tears or when the eyes stop producing tears.

Less tear production

Our eyes have the ability to produce adequate number of tears in order to keep the surface of the eyes smooth. When the eye is unable to create enough fluid, it becomes difficult for the vision to be clear and smooth. This condition is called keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Some causes for less tear production are:

  • Ageing
  • People who have vitamin A deficiency, diabetes, lupus scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome and thyroid disorders.
  • Damage of tear gland because of radiation and inflammation
  • Post side effects of a laser eye surgery (mostly, dry eyes after laser surgery are temporary
  • Conditions like hormone replacement therapy, Parkinson’s disease, acne, antihistamines, decongestants antidepressants and birth control.

Increased tear evaporation

A certain amount of oil in your tears stops them from over-evaporating. If there is less oil in your tear, they will evaporate quickly. Tear evaporation iincreases when meibomian glands are blocked as the balance of oil is disturbed.

Common causes of higher tear evaporation are:

  • Dry air, wind or smoke
  • Blinking less often. This happens when you are trying to concentrate or focus on something. For instance, reading with full focus or driving without blinking
  • When eyelids turn outwards (ectropion) or when eyelids turn inwards (entropion)

Complications

People who have dry eyes may experience these complications:

  • Eye infections: Tears not only keep the surface smooth but also protect them from different infections. With inadequate tears, your eye is more prone to infections.
  • Eye surface damage: Since the fluid is responsible to keep the eye surface smooth, severe dry eyes can cause eye inflammation, corneal ulcer or surface damage
  • Reduced life quality: Dry eyes also cause vision problems that make difficulty to perform everyday’ activities

Avoiding Dry Eyes

If you want to prevent dry eyes, avoid getting into situations or conditions that are more likely to damage your eyes.

  • Don’t let forced air enter your eyes.  Artificial air coming from hair dryers, engines, heaters or air-conditioners can damage your eyes
  • If the air is excessively dry, add moisture to the air
  • Wear protective eyewear or sunglasses that can block wind and dry air from entering your eyes
  • If you are frequently exposed to bright screens, take small breaks at regular intervals. Closing your eyes for a few seconds or blinking them quickly will help
  • Avoid going to a location which has extremely dry air. Places, which have dry air such as a desert, will irritate your eyes. And if you are at such a place, keep on closing your eyes for a few seconds so that the dry air does not evaporate the fluid.
  • Avoid smoking and avoid sitting with people who smoke because it can make the disease worse
  • If you have chronic dry eyes syndrome, use eye drops regularly (even when you feel fine) to keep the eye surface lubricated
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