What is Dry Eye?
Tears play an important role in keeping your eyes moist and comfortable throughout the day. They are made up of three different layers which are all vital in lubrication:
- Lipid (oil) Layer: lubricates the eye and prevents tear evaporation
- Aqueous (water) Layer: nourishes and protects the cornea
- Mucin Layer: helps tears adhere to the eye
When your eyes do not produce or maintain enough tears to the keep the surface of the eyes lubricated, multiple symptoms can occur with the most common being dry and itchy eyes. This can be caused by reduced tear production or increased evaporation.
Most Dry Eye sufferers have issues relating to their Meibomian glands being blocked. These glands are along the lash line and create an oil layer for the tears to prevent them from evaporating as quickly.
What Causes Dry Eye?
Dry Eye typically occurs as a result of aging or hormonal changes. Other factors that can encourage Dry Eye include medications that reduce tear production, eye surgery, extended contact lens use, and environmental factors.
Who is Vulnerable to Dry Eye?
This disease is most commonly found in women, particularly those who are pregnant, taking oral birth control, experiencing menopause, or over 50. Those suffering from medical conditions including diabetes, blepharitis, lupus, arthritis, and thyroid issues are also more apt to suffer from Dry Eye.
Is Dry Eye Preventable?
If your Dry Eye is caused by something external or environmental, there are steps you can take to prevent the problem and resolve any symptoms:
- Avoid dry environments.
- Wear eye protection in dusty and windy areas.
- Moisturize indoor air with humidifiers.
- Blink often when using screens. You can also practice the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a break.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes.
- Stay hydrated.
- If you wear contacts, do not wear them more than the recommended wear time and be sure to replace them frequently.