What Are Dry Eyes?

What Are Dry Eyes?

What Are Dry Eyes?

What Are Dry Eyes?

Your eyes require tears to remain comfortable and healthy. When they are absent or in short supply, your eyes become dry. The same situation may also occur when the tears are a different type.


How Tears Work

When you blink, a thin aqueous film of tears spreads over your eyes, leaving a smooth and clear surface. Tears have three layers that facilitate good vision. They include the oily, watery, and mucous layers, each with a specific purpose.

The outermost surface is the oily layer that comes from the meibomian glands. It keeps the tears smooth and prevents them from drying quickly. The watery layer lies in the center of your tear film. That is what you see as tears as it washes away foreign particles from your eyes. It originates from the lacrimal glands inside your eyelids.

The final section of the tear film is the mucus layer. It helps keep your eyes moist by spreading the watery layer evenly over your eyes. Without it, your tears can stick to the surface of your eye. The mucus layer consists of the conjunctiva, a clear tissue inside your eyelids.

Your eyes often well up whenever there is an irritant in them. If your eyes do not produce tears for any reason, the result is dry eyes.


Causes of Dry Eyes

Age and hormonal changes may interrupt the production of tears. The condition does not discriminate against any gender or race. However, it is more prevalent in women going through menopause. Other causes of dry eyes include:


  • Medications like beta-blockers, sleeping pills, diuretics, antidepressants, antihistamines, and heartburn medicines

  • Undergoing refractive eye procedures

  • Entropion or ectropion (eyelids turning in or outward)

  • Conditions like lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disease

  • Red or swollen eyelids (blepharitis)

  • Staring at digital screens for an extended time

  • Not blinking often enough

  • Being in a dry, windy, or smoky environment

  • Wearing contacts for a long time


Symptoms of Dry Eyes


Symptoms of this condition include:


  • Burning or stingy sensation in the eyes

  • Pain when wearing contacts

  • Blurry vision

  • A constant feeling of something foreign in your eye

  • A buildup of mucus strings in or about the eyes

  • Red eyes

  • Feeling of irritation in the eyes when in a smoky or windy area

  • Constant shedding of tears


Having excessive tears when suffering from dry eye is a sign of irritation from the condition.


Prevention Tips


You may incorporate several habits to help control or avoid dry eye. If you wear spectacles, wear wraparound glasses outdoors for protection against the wind. Whenever possible, avoid using hair dryers and overly warm rooms.

During winter, opt for a humidifier for central heating. It adds moisture to the air, dampening your eyes. If you do not own one, place a pan of water close to your radiator or heater. Hot, dry air creates an ideal environment for the evaporation of your tears.


Dietary Implications

Changing your diet can have an impact on the health of your eyes. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseeds, anchovies, trout, tuna, salmon, and sardines.


For more about dry eyes or to start treatment today, contact Westchester Eyes at our Yonkers, New York office. Call 914-586-EYES (3937) to schedule an appointment today.

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