Despite the frightening name, dry eye syndrome is not a rare genetic disease, congenital feature, or hereditary disease, but an acquired visual impairment.
Most of the day we spend in front of monitors and gadgets. The eyes are constantly straining and blinking less often than the body needs. As a result, the eyeball is less often washed with tear fluid. Without the necessary moisture, the eyes turn into a desert: the surface is dried up, there is a feeling of sand in the eyes. A dry office air, in which people spend 1/3 of the day, only worsens the situation.
In simple words, it is an insufficient moistening of the surface of the eye with a tear, which occurs either as a result of small tear fluid or with its accelerated evaporation from the outer membranes of the eye. On the surface of the eye, a tear film is formed, a homogeneous structure that (normally) has no breaks. The natural tear film consists of lipids that do not allow moisture to evaporate quickly, salts, proteins, and mucin that evenly distribute the liquid over the surface of the eye and maintain its stability. Violation of the integrity of the tear film or its thinning and leads to the development of dry eye syndrome.
And, if earlier the symptoms of dry eye syndrome were mainly in people over 55 years old due to natural age-related changes, now more and more people under the age of 40 face such a diagnosis.
Do you have dry eye syndrome?
If you often and for no apparent reason have:
- the desire to blink or rub your eyes, close your eyes tightly during the day and in the evening
- unpleasant sensations (like sand or fog in the eyes, tingling, burning, a painful reaction to light)
- tears scarcely crying
Then it's probably dry eye syndrome. Do not self-medicate and self-diagnose, and consult a doctor. Even if the symptoms are mild, the doctor will see the problem with the help of special equipment.
Dry eyes are a widespread problem in the modern world. If earlier age-related dry eyes arose due to natural changes occurring in the body, today, dry eye syndrome is often diagnosed in young and middle-aged people. This is due to the influence of both external and internal factors, and in any case, it is very unpleasant and painful.
Why do eyes get dry?
It is very important to identify what exactly the problem is in your case correctly. The reasons may be different, and the correct answer to this question will depend on the treatment, as well as the permission or ban on the use of contact lenses. Most of the factors that cause dry eyes are eliminated quite easily – and this is good news! What are the most common causes?
- Age change. The production of tear fluid decreases with age, which affects the structure and composition of the tear film.
- Diseases – there are a lot of them, from rheumatoid arthritis to problems with metabolism, as well as inflammatory processes of the eyelids and eyes, injuries, surgical interventions.
- Taking medications. Some types of contraceptives, antidepressants, diuretics, antiallergic substances, heart agents can cause dry eyes (the list is almost endless).
- External influence. This reason is very common! Dry air due to heating or air conditioning, prolonged work with the computer (at the same time we blink less often, and the eye is not moistened), work in wind and dust, air pollution with chemicals.
Dry eyes cannot be ignored. It is very desirable to address this problem to an ophthalmologist: drying of the superficial membranes of the eye can lead to inflammatory processes of the cornea or conjunctiva, the outer membranes of the eye, until the appearance of ulceration and other serious troubles.
How to understand that you are at risk?
To prevent the development of the disease, if you are at risk, it will be good to see a doctor without waiting for alarming symptoms. Look at this list and, if you recognize yourself in the description, make an appointment with a doctor:
- when you wake up in the morning, first look at the screen of your smartphone, and not at your loved one sleeping next to you;
- the working day is spent in a stuffy office, where air conditioning and bright artificial lighting are everywhere;
- at least 8 hours a day (with a lunch break) your eyes are before the monitor;
- on the road, always watch a movie, read a book or browse the news d in social networks on your smartphone or tablet;
- watching all 10 episodes of the series in one night;
- video games are your hobby;
- the profession is connected with the virtual world, so 24/7 you do not part with your smartphone or tablet.
What else affects the eyes, in addition to the frequent use of gadgets and long work at the computer? Everything that helps to remove moisture from the surface of the eye:
- strong wind (use sunglasses or regular glasses for protection);
- dry air conditioning in the house (buy a humidifier);
- wearing contact lenses (use moisturizing drops);;
- taking medications (check with the doctor who prescribed them in advance for possible side effects and how to deal with them);
- Smoking (give it up, but here everyone decides for themselves).
As you know, the best treatment for the disease is prevention. Do not spoil your vision, visit a doctor!
How is the syndrome manifested?
- it is obvious that the first sign – dryness as well as burning sensation, tingling, cutting, foreign body, the desire to constantly blink;
- reduced vision by the end of the day;
- photophobia which is discomfort in bright light;
- deterioration of sensations in dusty or windy conditions, as well as when using contact lenses.
In addition to symptoms, the doctor takes into account the results of special tests that they can conduct in an outpatient setting. During the execution of such a test, an indication strip is inserted into the eye, which determines the nature of wetting the eye with tear fluid.
What methods of the syndrome treatment syndrome are used?
To moisturize the eyes during the day, restore the structure of the tear film, and maintain its stability, several types of special products are used.
First, these are moisturizing drops, which are also called artificial tears. In its composition, such drops really resemble tear fluid. For the first time when using such drops, it is desirable not to wear wearing contact lenses burying for some time day. Later, when the situation improves, it will be possible to switch to drops that are combined with contact lenses and used somewhat less frequently.
Secondly, in serious forms of dry eye syndrome, a specialist can prescribe a lubricating ointment, which is laid under the eyelid usually during sleep. While the eyes are closed, the ointment fully nourishes and lubricates all the outer membranes of the eye, restores the tear film. In the daytime, such means are not used, because they are not combined with artificial tears.
Third, in particularly severe cases (we hope that this is not about you), surgery is used as a measure which is formed to block the outflow of tear fluid, allowing you to keep more tears on the surface of the eye.
Can I use contact lenses with dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome can occur in people with excellent vision and can accompany other diseases: myopia (myopia), presbyopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism. In such cases, the method of vision correction is selected by the doctor taking into account the full diagnosis.
Despite the fact that contact lenses come into contact with the surface of the eye, dry eye syndrome itself is not a contraindication for wearing contact lenses. Moreover, sometimes, lenses are even useful because they protect the eyes from excessive evaporation of tear fluid in dry climates or windy weather.
How to choose contact lenses for dry eye syndrome?
Most importantly, even with dry eyes, lenses can be worn! But it is necessary to choose modern contact lenses that not only contain a sufficient amount of moisture in the material but also have the properties of its delayed evaporation, as well as the highest oxygen permeability. The cheap lens with low water content will dry eyes, prone to disruption of the tear film.
If you already use contact lenses and often feel dry eyes, tell your ophthalmologist and ask to pick up for you suitable drops (if it's not about the lenses) or better contact lenses.
When using moisturizing drops, it is important to follow the rules of their application strictly! Some types of drops are applied before putting on lenses or during their wearing, and some are not compatible with contact lenses at all.
Modern silicone hydrogel contact lenses have excellent hydrophilic properties. You can independently try out models such as Acuvue Oasys from Johnson & Johnson or Biofinity from Cooper Vision, made by patented technologies that allow not only to retain moisture on the surface of the eye but also very slowly evaporate it (with healthy eyes, these lenses can be worn without removing!). The material combines special moisturizing and lubricating agents that will provide comfort and prevent the development of dry eye syndrome.