What Causes Dry Eye Disease And How To Manage It

What Causes Dry Eye Disease And How To Manage It

Innovative treatments can make life easy

Dr Amit MahajanUpdated: Saturday, December 09, 2023, 09:40 PM IST
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Manish, a 25-year-old chartered accountant, spends most of his day “in front of a computer screen and frequently experiences eye fatigue. Recently, he visited an eye doctor with concerns about persistent dryness, burning sensation, and occasional redness. He told the doctor that he had been suffering from these symptoms for the past six months, affecting his daily life and work productivity. After a thorough check-up, Manish was diagnosed with dry eye syndrome.

Tears lubricate the eye, lower the risk of infection, wipe away foreign objects, and maintain a clean, smooth surface. Dry eye disease can occur when there is inadequate production of tears. It affects more than 11.59% of the global population and the prevalence is higher in women.

What causes dry eye disease?

There are various factors that can cause dry eyes. It generally occurs if your eyes don’t produce enough tears or if there is excessive evaporation of tears. This syndrome can develop with increasing age and most people above the age of 60 experience some symptoms. Certain medications that are used to treat depression, allergies, blood pressure, glaucoma, and pain can increase the risk of this condition. Dry eye disease is more common among women due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and menopause. Other factors include allergies, weather conditions, and a history of eye surgery.

Symptoms

A person suffering from dry eye disease feels a scratchy, gritty, or sandy sensation. Symptoms may also include a stinging or burning sensation, sensitivity to light, eye redness, watery eyes, a feeling of something in the eyes, blurred vision, and eye fatigue. Though some may experience mild discomfort, untreated dry eyes can cause inflammatory damage to the cornea and conjunctiva. Additionally, it can negatively affect cognitive processes, sleep, mood, and mental health.

Treatment

Dry eye disease is a chronic condition. But certain treatments can help manage symptoms. Their main aim is to restore the normal amount of tears in the eyes to reduce discomfort and prevent the vision from being affected. Traditionally, dry eyes are treated with over-the-counter artificial tear solutions, prescription eye drops or ointments, warm compresses on the eyes, and eyelid massage. In order to conserve natural tears, the ophthalmologist may also recommend blocking tear ducts by inserting tiny silicone plugs (called punctual plugs).

The treatment has seen significant advancements in recent years. One of the modern treatment options includes intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. It helps liquefy the meibum (a secretion stabilising the tear film) and unclog the glands. IPL improves the natural flow of oil into the tears, stabilises the tear film, and reduces inflammation. A novel drug delivery system via nanoparticles is also available to treat dry eyes.

It is possible to prevent dry eyes and reduce symptoms by making certain lifestyle modifications. This includes taking periodic eye breaks, blinking regularly when reading or using a computer screen for a prolonged time, and wearing eyeglasses. With appropriate treatment plan, dry eye disease can be managed to lead a quality life.

(The writer is Director of Om Eye Hospital, Chalisgaon)

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