By Dr. Anand Palimkar, Ophthalmology
Dry eyes are quite common, but only as a temporary medical condition. Unfortunately though, this problem is becoming more and more persistent, promising serious vision problems later. The lacrimal glands near the eyes secrete tears, which is composed of a complicated combination of fatty oils, mucus and water. Tears help to keep the surface of the eyes clear, smooth and free of infections. When these tears are not secreted, the eyes get dry and run the risk of getting infected.
Doctors usually attribute dry eye syndrome to three main causes and they are:
1. When the tear production decreases
Kerato conjunctivitis sicca is the name of the medical condition of decreased production of tears, which leads to drying of the eyes. The causes can be:
I. Deficiency of vitamin A, thyroid disorders, and diabetes are certain medical conditions which might be responsible for decreased tear production.
Ii. Exposure to radiation can lead to damage in the tear glands.
Iii. Advanced age can cause Kerato conjunctivitis sicca.
2. When the rate of evaporation of tears increases
The causes of this happening include:
I. Constant exposure to smoke or high wind
Ii. Lack of blinking
Iii. Exposure to screens and radiation for a long time
3. When there is an imbalance in the tear gland
The three components that tears are composed of (water, mucus, oil) are extremely important and if any one of them is in incorrect proportion, then the entire production is disrupted. This can be caused by the clogging of the oil-producing meibomian glands. Skin disorders like blepharitis are usually the medical conditions influencing such causes of lack of tears.
Ways To Prevent Dry Eyes
Blink more frequently. When using a computer, smartphone or other digital device, we tend to blink our eyes less frequently than normal, which can cause or worsen dry eye symptoms. Make a conscious effort to be aware of this, and blink more often when using these devices. Also, perform full blinks, gently squeezing your eyelids together to wash your eyes fully with a fresh layer of tears. A good rule of thumb here is to look away from your screen at least every 20 minutes and look at something that is at least 20 feet from your eyes for at least 20 seconds. Some eye care practitioners call this the “20-20-20 rule,” and abiding by it can help relieve both dry eyes and computer eye strain.