What is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye disease (DED) is a disease that manifests itself when there is a low volume of tears, or when its composition is of poor quality.
As a consequence of this lack of lubrication, a series of annoying symptoms occur, which can be accompanied in the long run by injuries to the cornea and conjunctiva, and visual problems.
It is a very prevalent disease, which affects millions of people in the world, but the symptoms only manifest in 30% of those affected.
Why does dry eye syndrome occur?
The primary cause of DED is unknown, but it has been proven that certain risk factors lead to dry eye, such as aging of the tear duct glands due to advanced age and hormonal changes in women (post menopause, contraceptives or pregnancy). On the other hand, the DED can also be secondary to environmental conditions in which the air is very dry, viral infections, the use of certain drugs, the use of contact lenses, or secondary to systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
How does dry eye syndrome manifest?
Dry eye usually manifests with itching or burning, redness, sensation of dryness or a foreign body sensation in the eye, which usually worsens in the afternoon. These symptoms are usually accompanied by visual fatigue or heaviness of the eyelid.
Dry eye treatments
In most cases the initial treatment is artificial tear substitutes. In more severe cases of advanced epithelial defects, autologous serum is usually prescribed. Autologous serum is a topical treatment prepared from the patients own blood, it has growth factors and helps to recover the epithelial corneal cells. Other drugs such as cholinergic (which stimulate tear production), or anti-inflammatories are also useful for resistant cases.
Among the invasive options, the lacrimal puncta (where the tears drain) can be occluded temporaly in order to increase eye moisture.
Prevention of dry eye syndrome
It is recommended to carry out specific ophthalmological controls to detect the disease early and avoid the complications that derive from it, such as keratitis, vision loss or corneal ulcers. In addition, there are preventive measures to avoid dry eyes, such as placing air humidifiers next to heaters and air conditioners, using lubricating eye ointments before going to bed, avoiding areas contaminated or with excessive smoke or dust, etc.
It does not manifest at a specific age, but older people and postmenopausal women are at greater risk of suffering from DED.
Itching, redness, foreign body sensation, visual fatigue or heaviness in the eyelids.
To avoid the complications of DED, it is recommended to carry out periodic ophthalmological controls.
Avoid dry environments, with wind, or polluted air or with smoke or dust particles.