Dry eye syndrome is the specific condition where the eyes are incapable of providing the adequate amount of moisture required. Generally, it is a common disease affecting as many as 1 in 10 people. Dry eye syndrome causes the eyes to dry up and in turn leads to irritation and itchiness.
The dry eye syndrome is caused by direct exposure to sun, an arid living condition or workplace, higher exposure to cigarette smoke, cold medications or heat burns. This may also be the result of a particular autoimmune disorder called the Sjögren’s syndrome in which the tear glands are destroyed. The dry eye syndrome may also be the resultant effect of a former eye surgery.
People affected by this particular condition of the eye, experience blurred vision, swelling of the eye and more than average sensitivity to light. Their eyes dry up easily causing the eyes to redden easily and leaving a long lasting burning sensation.
Dry eye syndrome is rather chronic and may last up to a life time. There is no permanent solution as such but the condition may be brought under control by methods like artificial tears. These come as preserved (screw cap bottle) and unpreserved (twist open vial). Preserved tears are more convenient, but some people are sensitive to preservatives. There are many brands available without a prescription.
Start using the drops at least 2 to 4 times per day. If your symptoms are not better after a couple of weeks of regular use:
- Increase use (up to every 2 hours)
- Try a different brand
- Talk to your health care provider if you cannot find a brand that works for you
Other medical treatments may include:
- Fish oil 2 to 3 times per day
- Glasses, goggles or contact lenses that keep moisture in the eyes
- Medicines such as Restasis, topical corticosteroids, and oral tetracycline and doxycycline
- Tiny plugs placed in the tear drainage ducts to help moisture stay on the surface of the eye longer
Other helpful steps include:
- DO NOT smoke and avoid second-hand smoke, direct wind, and air conditioning.
- Use a humidifier, especially in the winter.
- Limit allergy and cold medicines that may dry you out and worsen your symptoms.
- Purposefully blink more often. Rest your eyes once in a while.
- Clean eyelashes regularly and apply warm compresses.
Some dry eye symptoms are due to sleeping with the eyes slightly open. Lubricating ointments work best for this problem. You should use them only in small amounts since they can blur your vision. It is best to use them before sleep.
Although the cause of immense discomfort, the dry eye syndrome doesn’t cause any harm to the vision. It must be reported to the physician although if the itchiness becomes unbearable.