WHAT IS DRY EYE DISEASE?
Dry Eye Syndrome, or Dry Eye Disease, is a common condition that occurs when the eyes do not make enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly.This leads to the eyes drying out and becoming inflamed (red and swollen) and irritated.
Do I have dry eyes?
In order for your eye care specialist to diagnose dry eye disease we look out for particular symptoms. The symptoms are also helpful in getting you to go to get your eyes treated.
What are some of the symptoms of Dry eye disease?
The symptoms overlap with a number of other conditions such as allergies or actual foreign bodies in the eye. But the most common cause of a gritty irritated dry eyes comes from dry eye disease.
The surface of the eye is covered by a tear film. When there is excessive evaporation or too little water being produced then at particular points in the tear film the water becomes very salty. The grittiness comes from these numerous small salty areas and this then can trigger pain sensation. Indeed if the tear is of very poor quality then there may actually be damage to the underlying surface of the eye. I often suggest to patients that they can think of it like a river bed when it is dry and the mud develops numerous small fine cracks over the surface. Each of these breaks can expose the underlying nerves and create the same gritty sensation as a bit of sand or salt in the eye.
How can my eye be watery if it is dry?
The body initially responds to the increased saltyness or damage to the surface by pouring a lot of water over the surface of the eye. Now the tear film is actually primarily a gel layer. All this water can actually cause a patient with a dry eye to have a watery eye. The quality of the water that is released is not sufficient gel enough and it just runs down out of the eye leaving dry patches on the surface of the eye. For this I use the analogy of water running off the windscreen to describe the dry patches that can occur in a patient with a watery eye.
There are many cause symptoms related to dry eyes including blurring of vision that changes well blinking. Sensitivity to light or to an environment that is dry, windy or very cold. A dull ache or throbbing sensation is usually not related to dry eyes.
Do not rub the eyes:
Remember not to rub the eyes aggressively however gentle massage of the eyelids is recommended after applying a hot compress to manage your dry eye disease.
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