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Posted 26/02/2018 09:49:22

This blog gives a brief overview about dry eyes, their causes and treatment.

Why Are My Dry Eyes Wet?
Dry eyes are probably the most frequently encountered problem in opticians and whilst it is seldom sight threatening it can greatly affect quality of life, indeed in questionnaires it's right up there with acute angina in how it affects happy living!

Clinicians call any condition resulting from problems relating to tear quality or quantity a dry eye.
It is wholly understandable that patients look at me a little oddly when I tell them that they have dry eyes, in spite of the fact that they seem to run at the least provocation.

The term dry eye relates to any form of tear dysfunction, whether it is caused by tear insufficiency where there is an absolute lack in tear volume, or where any other component of the tear film is diminished or altered.
The tear film itself is composed of an outer oily or lipid layer which reduces evaporation and lubricates, a watery layer and finally a mucoid protein layer which acts as a wetting agent for the cornea. The symptoms of a dry eye are soreness, itching and surprisingly a watery eye caused where the irritation of the eyes caused by basal tear insufficiency causes reflex tearing of a much more watery tear which then causes further discomfort.

The cause of dry eyes:
Essential dry eye.
Very few dry eyes are caused by an actual lack of tear volume and those that are, are generally linked to rheumatoid conditions, where the body attacks its self in an auto-immune response.
This results in damage to the lacrimal gland's, located under the upper eye lids and to the salivary glands giving rise to a dry mouth.
Tear supplements usually help in these cases and need to be used frequently, possibly every hour. The best type are preservative free as they are least likely to provoke an adverse reaction. Punctum plugs which block tear drainage may also help.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
There are around twenty five of these glands in both the upper and lower lids, arranged like the fingers of a hand, opening on the inner lid margins. They produce an oily secretion which floats on the surface of the tears serving to lubricate and prevent evaporation.
Often these gland become blocked and the oil becomes becomes thicker and soapy, so that the tears actually foam a bit.
This results in increased evaporation making the tears more salty, the eyes are the irritated causing reflex tear production.These tears are designed to wash away a foreign body and actually themselves cause more irritation setting up a vicious circle of irritation.
Treatment here is a combination of therapies, hot eye bag, lid massage to encourage oil flow, eye sprays to replace the oil, lid scrubs and tear drops.

The above is a brief summary, for more information see my article on dry eyes or contact me directly. www.opticians-chiropody-birmingham.co.uk/Services/Optician-Services/Dry-Eyes-Support/. Another useful link is http://www.revoptom.com/content/c/15811/ .