No one wants their quality of life interfered with and dry eye syndrome can do just that. Dry eyes is a very common condition that is categorized by a disruption of the tear film. This irregularity may result in a disturbance of the visual surface, causing a number of different symptoms and signs that will interference with your quality of life. To help keep the eyes comfortable and vision at its peak, a normal, thin film of tears coats your eyes. Our Larkfield-Wikiup optometrist will explain that three main layers make up this tear film. The thinnest of these layers is the innermost and is a layer of mucus. This very thin layer of mucus is produced by the cells in the clear skin that lines the eye (conjunctiva). The mucus helps the overlying watery layer to spread evenly over the eye. The middle layer is the largest and the thickest and is, basically, a thinned saltwater solution. The glands under the upper lids and the tear glands produce this watery layer. This layer is meant to keep the eye moist and comfortable, and to help flush out any debris, dust, or foreign objects that may get into your eye. Defects of this middle layer are the most common cause of dry eye syndrome, also referred to as dry eye. The most superficial layer is an extremely thin layer of fats or oils (lipids) which is to help decrease evaporation of the watery layer beneath.
Dry eyes affect a large percentage of the population, especially those 40 years of age and older. Research shows the estimated number of people affected by dry eyes ranges from 25-30 million in the United States and the worldwide number is a close parallel. Dry eye syndrome is not particular and can affect any race, but is more common in women than in men. Our Larkfield-Wikiup optometrist, Dr. Shipley, sees many patients with dry eyes, this common disorder that results from decreased tear production, excessive tear evaporation, or an abnormality in the production of mucus or lipids. Poor production of tears by the tear glands can be a result of hormonal changes, age, or various autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus.
Our Larkfield-Wikiup optometrist lets patients know that some medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, beta-blockers, and oral contraceptives, can decrease tear production. Tears may also evaporate and cause eyes to dry out if blinking is decreased or if the eyelids cannot be closed. Even though reading, watching TV, or performing a chore that requires close attention with your eyes, a person may not blink as often. This decreased blinking prompts extreme evaporation of your tears.