What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears, or when your tears don’t work properly. This can make your eyes feel uncomfortable, and in some cases it can also cause vision problems.
The most common symptoms of DES is…
Tear film instability:
Dry eye syndrome makes it hard for your eyes to produce tears. When your eyes don’t have enough lubrication, the act of blinking can cause your eyelids to rub against a dry cornea, which can lead to irritation. As a result, the blood vessels in the sclera, or the white part of the eye, can become swollen and appear red.
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD):
Meibomian glands are small oil glands on your eyelids that produce oil and protect the tear film. If your Meibomian glands aren’t making enough oil, it can worsen dry eye and lead to inflammation.
Treatment of Redness
Over-the-counter artificial tears: Artificial tears can help to lubricate your eyes and relieve redness.
Prescription eye drops or ointments: If over-the-counter treatments are not effective, your doctor may prescribe prescription eye drops or ointments to reduce inflammation and improve tear production.
Other treatments for dry eye redness may include punctal plugs, LipiFlow, or intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy.
- Avoid dry air and windy conditions.
- Use a humidifier at home, especially in the winter.
- Take breaks when using a computer or other digital devices.
- Blink frequently.
- Use artificial tears as needed.
- Get regular eye exams.
Stinging or burning typically occurs when your eyes have difficulty making either oil or tears.
Blinking is essential for your eyelids to produce the oil that protects your tear film. This oil provides lubrication and without it, your eyes may sting.
Dry eye syndrome can make it hard to produce tears. When you don’t have enough tears, your cornea can dry out and make you feel a burning sensation.
When your tears aren’t lubricating your eye as they should, it can make your eyes feel sandy, scratchy, or gritty—kind of like something is stuck in there and constantly irritating them. This feeling is known as a foreign body sensation.
Typically, the tear film serves as a layer of protection between the eyelid and the eyeball. With dry eyes, you can develop dry spots on your tear film that can irritate your eyes. Fortunately, these dry spots are not permanent and can heal with treatment that keeps your eyes moisturized.
Dry Eye-caused Blurry Vision
Your vision should appear normal to you when your tear film is lubricated. With dry eye, your tear film can become dry and make your eyes blurry.
A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences explained that a healthy tear film is necessary for clear vision. The first layer of your eye that sees light is the tear film. Once the tear film becomes dry, your vision can become distorted.
Blurry vision is a common dry eye symptom that may come and go. Your vision might be clear in the morning because your eyes were closed during sleep. When you wake up, the dryness could quickly set in and cause your vision to blur.
Your tear film can be repaired with treatments like the regular use of artificial tears (eye drops used to lubricate the eye). When your tear film starts to improve, you may also notice your vision getting better.
While some people may experience the inability to cry, others might produce too many tears. This may sound counterintuitive, but watery eyes can also be a dry eye symptom.
Researchers suggest this symptom occurs because of a subtype of dry eye called evaporative dry eye syndrome. As the most common type of dry eye syndrome, evaporative dry eye happens when you don’t produce the right kind of tears.
Tears need to contain a balanced amount of water, oil, and mucus to protect your eyes. If your Meibomian glands (the glands that produce oil) don’t function properly, you may not have enough oil in your eyes to coat the tear film. The oil from the Meibomian glands helps keep the tears in your eyes. Too little oil can make your tears easily evaporate, or water too much.
The good news is that there are many treatments for dry eye syndrome. Getting tested early can help your healthcare provider find the best treatment option for you. In the end, this may help keep your condition from progressing and, ultimately, preserve your vision.