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Dry eye syndrome: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome also called ‘Xerophthalmia’ is a condition characterised by decreased production of tears in the eyes. Lack of adequate amount of tears results in discomfort of the eye. However this is not a very serious disease and generally does not result in loss of vision.

Dry eye syndrome: Incidence, age and sex

Dry eye syndrome is mainly found in the older aged population. However, it may occur in individual at any age. Women seem to be more commonly afflicted than men.

Signs and symptoms of dry eye syndrome: Diagnosis

Individuals with dry eye syndrome experience itchy and gritty sensation in both the eyes. Persistent dryness in eyes may cause redness and burning in the eyes. Occasionally impairment of vision may be seen. Individuals with dry eye syndrome tend to rub their eyes due to intense irritation and this may further lead to worsening of the condition.

The eye must be examined by an eye specialist to confirm the diagnosis. Slit lamp examination of eyes may be done to examine the tear film in detail. Schirmer’s test is also done which measures the amount of tear production.

Causes and prevention of dry eye syndrome

The tears in eyes are responsible for lubricating the eyes as well as cleansing them of debris. Dry eye syndrome, in which the tears are diminished, may result from several causes of which old age is the commonest. Deficiency of vitamin A is also known to cause dryness of eyes. A disorder called facial palsy causes failure of closure of eyelid on the affected side. This causes reduced lubrication of the eye and it is a unilateral condition. Furthermore, dry eye syndrome may be associated with disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome.

Dry eye syndrome: Complications

Persistent reduction in lubrication of eyes may damage to cornea which is the transparent part covering the front of eye. Occasionally it may result in ulceration in the cornea.

Dry eye syndrome: Treatment

There are several treatment options available to manage dry eye syndrome. Artificial tears or lubricating ointments may be prescribed to moisturize the eyes. Steroid eye drops may be needed in severe cases. Antibiotic drops may be used in the presence of corneal infection to prevent further damage. It is advisable to use humidifiers in winters to prevent loss of moisture from eyes which may occur especially in winters. Surgical intervention may be considered if the above stated measures fail to manage the condition. Surgical blockage of a duct which carries tears from eyes to nose is done ensure conserving the tears in eyes.