Checking if you have a dry eye condition need no longer be guesswork with a simple visit to your optometrist.

Dry eyes is a chronic and progressive condition that affects many people and becomes more prevalent as you age.Dependingon the severity and cause of your condition, dry eye, can be managed properlywith early diagnosis, proper care and the right treatment. Before initiating any treatment, your doctor will do a thorough analysis of your symptoms. 




Common symptoms of dry eyes:

Many telltale signs and symptoms indicate whether you have a dry eye problem. Some of the typical symptoms of dry eyes include1:

  • Gritty feeling of something inside your eyes
  • Redness and pain in your eyes
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Burning and irritated eyes
  • Significant production of tears followed by prolonged dryness in eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Discharge of mucus from your eyes

Tests for diagnosing dry eyes:

The typical dry eye examinations conducted to confirm whether you have dry eye syndrome include:

  • Schirmer’s Test2: Schirmer’s test is used to determine how frequent and fast your eyes can produce tears. It is a common test that most doctors use to diagnose dry eye disease, where paper strips are placed in the eyefor several minutes to assess the production of tears. How moist these paper strips are indicate the capability of your eyes to produce tears. This test helps your doctor determine whether you produce too fewor too many tears. 
  • Phenol Red Thread Test: Alongside Schirmer’s test is the red thread test that is similar to Schirmer’s but involves the use of threads instead paper strips. Both tests aim at diagnosing whether you produce too many or too few tears. Your doctor will guide you on the most appropriate test3
  • Examination with Slit lamp: It involves the examination of the cornea with the use of a microscope. The cornea is an essential element of the human eye that performs two functions i.e. refraction of light and protection of the eye. It provides a transparent medium that light travels through. If there are any ulcerations or abrasions in your cornea from the test, it is a clear indication that you have dry eye syndrome. 
  • Additional Blood tests: Blood tests could be recommended in case you have additional symptoms apart from the classic dry eye symptoms. Conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome contribute to dry eyes. Sjogren’s is an autoimmune disease that mostlyaffects women. It leads to abnormal production of excessive antibodies that affect the tear-producing tissues and causes dryness in the eyes, mouth, nose, throat and skin. Sjogren’s syndrome is linked to genetic disorders and exposure to bacteria and virus.

 


Treatment of dry eyes:

Artificial tears or ocular lubricantsare a common treatment used to alleviate symptoms of dry eyes. Artificial tears eliminate dry eye problems resulting from several conditions such as environmental factors like wind or smoky conditions, eye surgery, medical conditions and aging. 

What do artificial tears do?

  • Artificial tears help lubricate your eyes and moisten the outer covering. 
  • It contains electrolytes that promote healing in case of wounds on the surface of your eyes and helps to relieve any irritation or burning sensations that result from dry eyes. 
  • It comes with thickening agents called Hydroxypropyl cellulose that help stabilize and thicken your precorneal tear film. Additionally, it extends the tear film breakup time. 

Artificial tears like Blink Intensive Tears Lubricating Eye Drops and blink Intensive Tears Plus are available at your pharmacy or optometrist. Artificial tears have greatly helped improve the quality of life for those suffering from dry eyes and are a sought-after, affordable and efficient option2.

 

 

References:
1RobertMonte ́s-Mico ́, Alejandro Cervin ̃ o, Teresa Ferrer-Blasco, Santiago Garcı ́a-La ́zaro, Susana Ortı ́-Navarro. 2010, Optical quality after instillation of eyedrops in dry-eye syndrome, J Cataract Refract Surg ,36: 935-940.
2Tear osmolarity measurement using the TearLabTM Osmolarity System in the assessment of dry eye treatment effectiveness. 2010,  Contact Lens & Anterior Eye 33: 61–67
3A Comparison of Tear Volume (by Tear Meniscus Height and Phenol Red Thread Test) and Tear Fluid Osmolality Measures in Non-Lens Wearers and in Contact Lens WearersEye & Contact Lens 2004, Science & Clinical Practice: 30: Issue 3 132-137

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