This is very common condition which is the underlying cause of many complaints pertaining to the eye, including that of excessive tearing.
HOW DOES IT OCCUR?
It occurs when the normal balance of the tear film over the eye is disturbed, due to a deficiency or excess of one of its three components, namely the aqueous (water), mucin (protein mucus) or lipid (oil).This results in ‘dry spots’ which expose the underlying corneal surface to outside elements, causing the symptoms usually associated with it.
WHEN DOES IT OCCUR?
Low humidity ( airconditioned rooms ), haze, smoke and other air pollutants.
Normal tear production decreases with age and also more common in postmenopausal females.
- Contact Lens Wear
Some contact lens materials absorb moisture from the eye.
Prolonged staring at computer and television screens leads to decreased frequency of blinking, which is necessary for the recoating of the tear film over the eye.
Certain medications, especially those used for relieving cough and cold, also reduce tear secretion.
Other Related Conditions
Chronic blepharitis, rheumatoid arthritis, thyrotoxicosis and Sjrogen’s Syndrome are commonly associated with dry eyes.
It can also occur after any form of eye surgery eg cataract operations and LASIK.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Sandy, gritty or ‘foreign body’ sensations in the eye
Redness, itchiness, or even pain in the eye
Excessive tearing ( this paradox is due to the reflex secretion of non-lubricating tears to flush off other irritants )
Sensitivity to bright lights
Intermittent blurring of vision which improves with blinking
Difficulty in wearing contact lenses comfortably
HOW IS IT TREATED?
Avoid contact lens, airconditioned and other aggravating environments (when possible, of course).
Artificial tear preparations
These form the mainstay of treatment and are applied as eye drops, ointments or gels and can be used as often as necessary. Those who develop a sensitivity to the preservative can be prescribed a preservative-free preparation.
Special plugs applied to the punctum (where the tears drain away from the eye to the nose) to trap tears in the eye is another option for severe cases.
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