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23 / 03 / 2018
Dry Eyes
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Dry Eyes


Dry eye syndrome is a common cause of eye irritation. Tears reduce the risk of eye infection and, with each blink of the eyelids, help clear your eyes of any debris.

Dry eyes caused by decreased production of fluids from your tear glands can prevent tears from performing their useful functions and affect your vision. An imbalance in the substances that make up tears also can make your eyes become dry.

Common steps to deal with dry eyes include using artificial tears and taking steps to prevent dry eyes in the first place

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of dry eyes may include:

  • A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes

  • A sense of a foreign substance in your eyes

  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes

  • Increased eye irritation from smoke or wind

  • Eye fatigue after short periods of reading

  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

Both eyes usually are affected.


Tears are much more than just water. They're a complex mixture of water, fatty oils, proteins, electrolytes, bacteria-fighting substances and growth factors that regulate various cell processes. This mixture helps make the surface of your eyes smooth and clear. Without it, good vision is impossible.

For some people, the cause of dry eyes is an imbalance in the composition of their tears. Other people don't produce enough tears to keep their eyes comfortably lubricated. Medications and other causes, such as environmental factors, also can lead to dry eyes.

Poor tear quality
Your eyelids spread tears across the surface of your eyes in a continuous thin film. The tear film has three basic layers: oil, water and mucus. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eye symptoms.

  • Oil. The outer layer, produced by small glands on the edge of the eyelids (meibomian glands), contains fatty oils called lipids. These smooth the tear surface and slow evaporation of the middle watery layer. When the oil layer is abnormal, the watery layer evaporates at too fast a rate. Dry eye symptoms are common in people whose meibomian glands are clogged. Meibomian dysfunction is more common in people with inflammation along the edge of their eyelids (blepharitis), rosacea and other skin disorders.

  • Water. The middle layer, which makes up about 90 percent of tears, is mostly water with a little bit of salt. This layer, produced by the tear glands (lacrimal glands), cleanses your eyes and washes away foreign particles or irritants. A shallow water layer can predispose you to tear film instability. If your eye produces only small amounts of water, the oil and mucus layers can touch and cause the stringy discharge familiar to people with dry eyes.

  • Mucus. The inner layer of mucus allows tears to spread evenly over the surface of your eyes. Dry spots form easily in any part of the cornea that has patchy loss of the mucus layer.

Decreased tear production
Like skin and hair, your tear production tends to dry up as you get older. When you're unable to produce enough tears, your eyes become easily irritated. The medical term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca.

Although dry eyes can affect both men and women at any age, the condition is more common among women, especially after menopause. This may be due to hormonal changes. Damage to the tear glands from inflammation or radiation can hamper tear production. Dry eyes are also associated with medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma and Sjogren's syndrome.

Medications that may cause dry eyes
The types of common medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC), that can cause dry eyes include:

  • Diuretics, drugs commonly used to treat high blood pressure

  • Antihistamines and decongestants

  • Sleeping pills

  • Tricyclic antidepressants

  • Isotretinoin-type drugs for treatment of acne

  • Opiate-based pain relievers such as morphine

Other causes of dry eyes
Problems unrelated to tear production or tear quality also may cause eyes to feel dry and scratchy. These include:

  • Blepharitis, an inflammation along the edge of the eyelids

  • Entropion, a condition in which the eyelid turns inward

  • Ectropion, a condition in which the eyelid sags away from the eyeball

  • Environmental irritants such as smoke, sun, wind, low humidity, high altitudes and indoor heating

  • Disruption of your blink reflex

  • An allergic reaction to eyedrops or ointments

  • Prolonged time between blinking, such as when you're visually concentrating on something, for example, working at a computer, driving or reading

Dry eye syndrome > next > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.

In no event will the be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.
Contact Information
Dr. Eddy Bettermann M.D.

Mob: +60.17 545 1784         +66.89 8550 5066





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Last Modified : 17/06/09 11:10 PM