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Eye Dryness

Identify the symptoms of eye dryness and the solutions offered by the Bellecour Vision Clinic to cure this pathology

What is Eye dryness

Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn't have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision.

What are dry eyes symptoms?

People with dry eyes may experience :

  • Irritated, gritty, scratchy or burning eyes
  • They can have the feeling of something in their eyes (like sand)
  • Redness
  • Stinging, scratching, or burning sensations
  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery eyes when it’s windy or cold
  • Blurry vision
  • Impossibilty of wearing contact lenses and taking them off at the end of the day.
  • That is one of the main reasons why people with dry eyes want to have a surgery, they cannot wear lenses any more.

How are dry eyes diagnosed?

Dry eyes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination (that includes a complete history of your overall health and your eye health). This can help your eye care specialist diagnose the cause of your dry eyes. Testing with emphasis on the evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes may include:

  • A test to measure the volume of your tears:
    Your eye care specialist may measure your tear production using the Schirmer tear test. In this test, blotting strips of paper are placed under your lower eyelids. After five minutes your eye care specialist measures the amount of strip soaked by your tears
  • A test to determine the quality of your tears
    Other tests use special dyes in eye drops to determine the surface condition of your eyes. Your eye care specialist looks for staining patterns on the corneas and measures how long it takes before your tears evaporate
  • A tear osmolarity test
    This type of test measures the composition of particles and water in your tears.

We can also use a device especially conceived for detecting dry eyes called the “Lipiview”. In a few minutes, this painless exam will help us measure the thickness of the lipids layer, watch the way you blink and have a high-quality imaging of your Meibomius glands. This exam is a part of our preoperative examination at the Bellecour Vision Clinic.

What causes dry eyes?

Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage are not in balance. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are of a poor quality:

  • Inadequate amount of tears (aqueous deficient dry eye)
    Tears are produced by several glands in and around the eyelids. Tear production tends to diminish with age, with various medical conditions or as a side effect of certain medicines. Environmental conditions, such as wind and dry climates, can also decrease tear volume due to increased tear evaporation. When the normal amount of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.
  • Poor quality of tears (evaporative dry eye)
    There are meibomian glands on the eyelids that put out oil on the surface of the eye that stabilizes the tear film. Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. Each component protects and nourishes the front surface of the eye. A smooth oil layer helps prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucin layer spreads the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If the tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly over the cornea due to deficiencies with any of the three tear layers, dry eye symptoms can develop. This can happen if meibomian glands do not function well.

People with dry eyes often have a combination of those two subtypes

Dry eyes can develop for many reasons, including:

  • Age
    Dry eyes are a part of the natural ageing process. Most people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.
  • Gender
    Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and menopause.
  • Medications
    Certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants, can reduce tear production.
  • Medical conditions
    People with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids, inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.
  • Environmental conditions
    Exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation, resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.
  • Other factors
    Long-term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.

Should I get my dry eyes treated?

There is no emergency in treating dry eyes. If ever you think about having refractive surgery (for myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia or presbyopia), you will have to make sure you don’t have dry eyes and if you do, treat it. If you had refractive surgery without healthy hydrated eyes, it could compromise the results. What is important is how you feel. If you have symptoms, you should see a doctor.

How to treat dry eyes?

The treatment will depend on the underlying causes of the dryness, and whatever the causes, re-education will be a big part of the treatment.