In many cases however, the patient is not aware that dry eyes is the actual cause of their complaint!
The (many) symptoms of DRY EYE include the following:
-itchy, red and watery eyes
-dull ache or throb behind eye, usually getting worse with prolonged reading or computer use, or in blowing air
-sudden sharp pain in eye that last for a second or so.
-fluctuating vision that improves with blinking
The next question we then get is: how can my eye be dry? It waters all the time!!?
The answer to this lies in the dynamics of our tear film.
The surface of the eye has to remain moist with an even film to remain clear and comfortable.
The normal tear film is produced by thousand of tiny glands along the tear margin. If these tear glands are interrupted in any way, the tear film is changed and this can create a dry eye situation. This can lead to overproduction of "reflex" tearing. These tears are produced by a much larger gland at the top of the eye (normally used only as a defense against foreign bodies getting in the eye or emotional crying). This will cause an overproduction of tears, which cannot be contained and result in watery eyes.
The normal tear film has three main components: water, oil and mucus.
The most common cause of dry eye is reduced production of the oil component of the tear film. This causes the tears to evaporate too rapidly off the surface of the eye, causing discomfort, overwatering and fluctuating vision.
Causes for reduced oil production from lid glands include: age, hormonal changes, almost all medications, rosacea, and blepharitis (infection of the eyelid margin).
There is no cure for dry eye.
However there are many things that can be done to reduce dry eye:
-warm compressed on lids to warm the glands and improve oil production
-lid cleaning with mild antibacterial cleaning products to reduce bacteria on the lid
-supplement tears with artificial tears (preferably with gentle or no preservatives; many now include oil
-avoid blowing air, or staring too long at computers
-omega 3 fatty acids in the diet can help
Hope this helps clear up some common questions about dry eyes!