If you suffer from chronic dry eyes, you might try everything in your power to relieve them. But if nothing you try works to soothe your dry eyes, you might have dry eye syndrome. You can't treat dry eye syndrome with regular over-the-counter eye treatments. You'll need to look elsewhere for answers and relief.
Learn why dry eyes develop and the treatments you can obtain for this condition below.
How Does Dry Eye Syndrome Develop?
Dry eye syndrome develops when something affects the tear film of each eye. A tear film consists of three layers: an outer layer, a middle layer, and an inner layer. Each layer produces its own fluid to lubricate and protect the tissues in your eyes. Here's a breakdown on how each layer works and why.
The Outer Layer
The outer layer uses a special oil produced by your upper eyelid to keep dirt, grit, and other debris out of your eyes. The oil also ensures that the surfaces of your eyes don't dry out or evaporate every time you blink or open your eyes. If the oil does dry out, your eyes begin to feel dry and irritated.
The Middle Layer
The middle layer relies on a watery fluid called tears to protect your eyes. Tears consist of salt and other nutrients that nourish and protect your eyes during the day. If debris does enter the tissues of your eyes, the nutrient-rich fluid washes it away.
Your tears can dry out if you have a problem with your tear ducts, which are the small openings found in the corners of your eyes. The ducts can malfunction and produce very little tears, or they can stop working altogether and produce no tears.
The Inner Layer
The inner layer consists of mucus. Tears use mucus to spread out and coat the surfaces of your eyes. You might see mucus in the corners of your eyes or along the edges of your eyelids at certain times of the day, such as when you first wake up the morning. Sometimes, your eyes can produce too much mucus and not enough tears.
The gland that produces your eyes' oil can also clog up over time. The clog can prevent oil from mixing with your tears and lubricating the surfaces of your eyes.
Dry eye syndrome can affect one or more of the tear film layers in your eyes. Because of this, treating your condition at home can be difficult and frustrating. To find real answers and relief for your symptoms, you'll need to see an optometrist.
What Are the Solutions for Dry Eye Syndrome?
An optometrist will generally examine your tear ducts to see if they have a problem before they proceed further. If you can't make enough tears to lubricate your eyes, an eye doctor may use one of several treatments to lubricate them, including artificial lubricants and stents.
If an eye doctor determines that you have something wrong with the oil production in your eyes, they may use medications to stimulate or replace the oil. Prescription-grade artificial tears may also work well to keep the outer surface of your eyes moist. An eye specialist will discuss other treatment options with you after your exam.
After you receive treatment for your dry eyes, keep them moist by wearing protective eye coverings when you venture outside. Try to avoid situations that can aggravate your eyes, such as construction and building sites. You want to keep grit and other contaminants out of your eyes as much as possible.
You can learn more about dry eye syndrome and the treatments for it by contacting us at the Vision Care Center today.