Dry eye is a very common and widespread condition. It is a seemingly simple condition, but it can have a significant impact on a patient’s visual comfort. The causes of dry eye are extremely numerous. Here are some of them:
- dry, ventilated environment, etc;
- reduced blinking frequency (computer work, reading)
- reduced tear production;
- poor tear quality.
Decreased tear production can be caused by age, hormonal changes, medication, refractive surgery (LASIK), chronic inflammatory diseases (e.g. Sjogren’s, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.). Poor tear quality is most often caused by dysfunction of the Meibomian glands in the presence of blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids). The opening of these glands is located at the edge of the eyelids and secretes an oil (meibum) that protects the evaporation of tears. When meibum secretion is impaired, tear formation is compromised.
Treatment of dry eyes usually begins with the instillation of artificial tears four times a day. Treatment of blepharitis is also important. It consists of warm compresses and massage of the eyelids. This treatment is explained in more detail under Blepharitis. If the symptoms of burning, irritation, grittiness and so on do not resolve with this treatment, medicated eye drops may be prescribed and the frequency and type of artificial tears may vary.
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