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How To Get Relief From Dry Eyes In Summer?

June 3, 2022

Dry eye is also known as tear film dysfunction. It occurs when the tear film of the eyes breaks down. The tear film is the outer coating on the surface of the eyes. It provides moisture to the eyes and protects them from infection.

Tears consist of three layers which play a critical role in eye functioning

  • Lipid layer: It is the outermost layer made up of oil and helps protecting the second layer, and keeps the tear film stable.
  • Aqueous or water layer: This layer is made of water and provide the much-needed moisture to eyes.
  • Mucin layer: It is the innermost layer made up of mucus and provides stability and adhesion of the tear film to the surface of the eye.

What is dry eye disease?
Dry eye is a chronic and uncomfortable condition. In this condition, the eyes are not able to produce an adequate quantity of tears or the quality of tears are poor.

Types of dry eye disease
Dry eye disease can be of two types. It is very rare for a patient to suffer from both types of disease at the same time.

  • Evaporative dry eye

Meibomian glands are present in the eyelids, which produce lipid or oily part of the tears. Inflammation in the meibomian gland causes inadequate production of meibum. In the absence of lipid, the tear film breaks down due to evaporation of the underlying aqueous layer.

  • Aqueous tear-deficieny dry eye

Insufficient production of the watery part of tears by lacrimal glands can cause aqueous tear-deficient dry eye.

Hence dry eye can occur due to inadequate production of tears or adequate production but higher evaporation of the tear film.

Symptoms of dry eyes
Dry eye occurs when the tear film is not healthy. As result, your eyes become irritated. In response to irritation, the eyes produce excessive tears. This is called reflex tearing. Your eyes may produce tears as a response to the ocular irritation, but these tears are of poor quality and they do not lubricate the ocular surface. Hence dry eye can also present as watering.

The symptoms of dry eye can vary. The most common symptoms of dryness include

  • Watery eyes
  • Mucus like discharge
  • Stinging and burning sensation
  • Irritation or foreign body sensation
  • Inability to open eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Difficulty in reading
  • Difficulty in using digital devices for long hours
  • Headaches or eye fatigue
  • Intolerance to contact lenses

Various options for getting relief from dry eyes in summer
Dry eye most commonly occurs in summer due to excessive evaporation of tear film. The use of air conditioners in homes, workplaces or car also contributes to the quick evaporation of tears. Sun, dust, environmental pollution and smoking are also the causative factors for dry eye. You can protect your eyes in the following ways.

  • Wearing sunglasses during summer
  • Over-the-counter eye drops are helpful in mild cases of dry eye
  • Avoid sitting directly under fan or air conditioners
  • Take frequent breaks from digital devices and try to blink more frequently
  • Wear prescribed contact lenses that are made up of high water content like hydrogel
  • Drink sufficient water around ten cups a day
  • Take omega-3 fatty acids to enhance the production of oil part of the tear
  • Compress your with a warm wet towel to stimulate meibomian glands

When to see an ophthalmologist
Consult your ophthalmologist, if you feel redness, pain, irritation, or any of the above symptoms for a long time. Your eye specialist may prescribe you various medications, like lubricating eye drops, that may help in relieving the symptoms of dry eye. Further, the doctor may also advise certain tips to avoid the recurrence of dry eyes.

Dry eye treatment
Over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears are very helpful in treating mild to moderate dry eye and computer vision syndrome but they will not sufficient for severe and persistent symptoms. For serious symptoms of dry eye, other efficient options are available.

  • Medication: Anti-inflammatory drug such as cyclosporine prevent damage to the mucin producing cells of the tear film and is useful in aqueous deficiency dry eye
  • Other procedures: Several other procedures can be used to treat dry eyes such as special contact lenses, eye masks, eyelid massage and manual expression.
  • Home remedies: Use a wet cloth or eye mask to compress your eyes. Another option is to take a supplement of omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Punctual plugs:  they are used in severe cases of dry eye such as Sjogren syndrome, to block the natural outflow pathway for tears hence making it stay on the ocular surface for longer.
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy: is the latest technology which is currently being used in management of dry eye. It selectively targets the blocked meibomian glands, with a series of pulses of light energy, which reduces inflammation, reduces vascularisation, stimulates oil production and also improves skin quality. A few sessions of IPL treatment will show drastic improvement in dry eye symtoms.

Dry eye is not a serious problem. Use of lubricating eye drops and home remedies will help in dry eye. You can also manage this condition through nutritional supplements. Take advise from your ophthalmologist for managing the symptoms of dry eyes.

Ojas Eye Hospital A Center of Excellence for Contoura Vision, Femto Bladefree Lasik in Mumbai, India.