Dry eye syndrome is a disorder of eye occurs in people who do not posses right quality of tears or who do not produce enough amount of tears which is necessary for keeping the eye healthy and relaxed.
There are three films of tear in the eye;
- Oily layer
- Watery layer
- Layer of mucus
Each layer has its special characteristics and special purpose. Oily layer is formed by the meibomian glands. Tear film’s outer most layer is formed of oily layer. Purpose of this layer is to make the tear surface smoother and minimize the evaporation of tears. Watery layer is produced by Lacrimal glands. The middle watery layer produces the water, the water known as tears among ordinary people. Purpose of middle layer is to clean the eye and to wash out irritants and foreign particles. The inner most layer is the layer of mucus. It is produced by conjunctiva. Purpose of mucus is to allow the middle layer to spread smoothly and evenly over the eye. If there will be no mucus, there will be no sticking of tears to the eye.
Usually eye takes a constant bath of tears. Eye always keeps itself moist with the help of tears which it produces at a slow but steady rate. Thus this way eye maintains a required level of lubrication. Eye also produces huge amount of tears quickly in response to irritation or emotion. When one cries or when there is some outer object in eye territory eye produces bulk of tears. These sudden increases in tears overwhelm the drainage system of tear. These extra tears then overflow from eye.
Dry eye syndrome occurs when eye fails to produce enough tears to keep it moist and to take its steady bath. The cause of it can be malnutrition. Deficiency of vitamin A is one of the major causes but dry eye syndrome mostly occurs in otherwise healthy people. The disorder is found more in older people. It can also be linked with lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis type of disorders. Another cause of the disorder can be burning of eye due to some chemical or heat.
Major symptoms of dry eye syndrome include thick cornea and reduced visual acuity. Diagnosis of the disorder is done by several tests. For instance slit lamp test (biomicroscope exam) which makes the tear film easily visible or schimer’s test which measures the amount of tears. Once dry eye syndrome is detected it is treated in many ways for instance cleaning eyelash and lubricating ointments. Medicines like topical corticosteroids, restasis, doxyccycline and tetracycline are also used. Some times wetting drops are advised to use for keeping the eye moist, this is called artificial tears. Surgery can also be an option if dry eye syndrome is due to the displacement of eyelids.
Cure for dry eye syndrome is present but there is no way to avoid it. Preventive measures are of no use for dry eye syndrome. Complications can be avoided by keeping the eye wet and lubricated.