Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears maintain the health of the front surface of the eye and help to provide clear vision. Dry Eye is a common problems, particularly in older adults.
When you blink your eyelids, tears spread across the cornea. The tears provide lubrication and reduce the risk of eye infections. In addition, tears wash away dirt, grit and makeups in the eye, and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. When you have too much tears, it flows into small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelid which drain back to the nose. Dry eyes can occur with the tear production and drainage are not in balance.
Most people who suffer from dry eyes do not produce enough tears or have poor quality tears.
- Inadequate amount of tears. Tears are produced by several glands in and around the eyelids. Unfortunately, tear production may diminish with age, with various medical conditions or as a side effect of certain medicines. Wind and dry climates may decrease tear volume too. When the normal amount of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.
- Poor quality of tears. Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water and mucus. Each layer protects and nourishes the front surface of the eye. A smooth oil layer helps prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucus layer spreads the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If the tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly over the cornea due to deficiencies with any of the three tear layers, dry eye symptoms can develop.
The most common form of dry eyes occurs when the water layer of tears is inadequate. This condition, called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is also referred to as dry eye syndrome.
People who have dry eyes may suffer from irritated, gritty, scratchy or even burning eyes. Dry eyes may damage the front of the eye and impair vision. Treatments for dry eyes aim to restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye to minimize dryness and related discomfort and to maintain eye health. If you think you may suffer from dry eyes, call West Side Eye Clinic at 504.347.8434 to schedule an appointment.