Greetings to all and sundry,
It is a beautiful weekend over here in Ghana and a wonderful time, the days are passing by quite quickly and I fear Christmas may be knocking on our doorsteps sooner than we may have anticipated, however, it may be I do hope we all continue to have a blissful time.
I was away for a few days because I had to write a license renewal exam and I had to take some time off to study, revise and get it done, now that, that is out of the way we would be continuing our daily lessons on ocular health and I do hope you continue to enjoy them as usual.
The eye is one of the simplest and yet most complicated structures in the body, simply because its work is straightforward and to the point, complicated in the sense that its relationship with the brain makes some things difficult to wrap our heads around but let's continue to take it one step at a time.
Today we would be looking at a condition known as dry eye syndrome otherwise known as dry eyes in simple terms. The eye has something we call tears which we are all familiar with and these tears ought to always be present to keep the eyes moisturized in addition some functions such as maintaining the microbial flora, killing the microbes that ain't supposed to be there, and facilitating vision by adding up to refraction of light.
When this tear is compromised in any way dry eye may result along with its uncomfortable signs and symptoms, many factors may contribute to the development of dry eyes including computer usage which puts a lot of us if not all of us at risk of developing dry eyes. Again, dry eye is gradually becoming the most common diagnosis across the globe which means we ought to know about it and possibly protect ourselves accordingly.
So what happens in dry eyes? The tear has three main components which contribute to the functions that were talked about in the previous chapter, these components include lipid, aqueous and mucous. They work together to keep the tear from the eye and not evaporate quickly. The lipid act as a layer between the tear and the atmosphere thus reducing the rate of evaporation.
The mucous enables it to be slimy in some way for easy movement across the eye and blinking whereas the aqueous moisturizes the eye and also helps with the provision of oxygen. Due to the synergy between these parts any component falling short in terms of their production causes the tears to dry up quicker than they ought to however the severity of the condition may be affected by the component effect.
For instance, the defective lipid component would result in a severe form of dry eye compared to aqueous due to their functions. Dry eye is best diagnosed by your optometrist because its symptoms are very common and similar to so many eye conditions. Your optometrist may perform Tear Break Up test to confirm the diagnosis before treatment.
Dry eyes may present with symptoms such as burning sensations in the eye, pain, redness or conjunctivitis, tearing as the eye tries to compensate for the defect and some gritty or prickly sensation. Dry eyes may come when the glands responsible for producing the various components are affected in a way or due to our habits which may be causing the tears to just dry quicker than they ought to.
An example will be someone working in an airconditioned environment most of the time, the humidity may precipitate dry eye, and people who are always using the fan, sitting under the fan all the time may also cause their tears to dry up quicker than they ought to. It may also be physiological, for instance, individuals with lagophthalmos where the eye fails to close properly may expose the anterior surface of the eye to the environment in their sleep resulting in dry eyes.
Dry eyes are treated with artificial tears and depending on the severity your doctor may look at the brand that would suit you the most, the frequency with which you may use it may also depend on the severity of your condition. Your Doctor may also give you some mild steroids to help counteract the mild inflammations that come as a result and may even advise you on warm compressed on some occasions.
It is always best to see your nearest primary eye care provider or Optometrist when you notice that you may be having any of the symptoms described above that may be pointing to dry eyes. Do not diagnose yourself and treat yourself the chances that you may misdiagnose is very high if not 100% and self-medication are always ill-advised.
As I always say, the purpose of these writeups is to supplement the work my colleague doctors are doing to make patient education easier for both parties and so let the knowledge guide you to seek proper care and always do what is right. Remember your eye is your window to the beautiful sceneries of this world Do not joke with it. Thank you once again for reading and for your time, I wish you the very best.
Mills G. (2021). Study shows there are lots of dry eyes in the house. The Veterinary record, 189(1), 12–13. https://doi.org/10.1002/vetr.687
Redmond, N., & While, A. (2008). Dry eye syndrome (DES) and watering eyes. British journal of community nursing, 13(10), 471–479. https://doi.org/10.12968/bjcn.2008.13.10.31184
Lurati A. R. (2019). Menopause and Dry Eye Syndrome. Nursing for women's health, 23(1), 71–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nwh.2018.11.001
Askeroglu, U., Alleyne, B., & Guyuron, B. (2013). Pharmaceutical and herbal products that may contribute to dry eyes. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 131(1), 159–167. https://doi.org/10.1097/PRS.0b013e318272a00e