Dry Eye Syndrome
Also referred to as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). This is a condition that causes the eyes to continuously be dry more often than not. Some of the symptoms that are associated with this condition include redness, irritation, fatigue, discharge, and the feeling of being hot. It is also possible for blurred vision to occur. Symptoms can be mild and often severe and constant. Leaving this condition untreated can cause the cornea to have scarring. Someone who has a bad case of severe dry eyes may have a lissamine green that appears diffused and staining. This condition can occur one of two ways, which is if there is not a normal amount of fluids (not producing enough tears) or if the tears are evaporating more rapidly than they would normally. Both of which can be the result of using contact lens, allergies, Sjögren syndrome (SjS, SS), Meibomian gland dysfunction, pregnancy, vitamin A deficiency, LASIK surgery, and certain medications like blood pressure medication, antihistamines, and hormone replacement therapy.
This condition can also be cause from chronic conjunctivitis which comes from being exposed to tobacco smoke or an infection. Usually, the diagnosis is based on what the symptoms are, however, sometimes one of the many tests available may be used. Depending on the underlying cause, a method of treatment will be decided. The first method of treatment is often artificial tears. In some cases it can help to stop taking certain medications are medications being changed. There is an option available where lacrimal plugs are used in order to stop the tears from being able to drain out of the surface. When they are dry it may make it difficult to continue wearing contact lenses. This is a common disease that affects 5 to 34% of the people to some degree, and among the elderly, up to 70%. It also affects around 17% of the people in China.
The signs & symptoms of having the disease
The usual symptoms of having this disease are burning, dryness, irritation that has a gritty feeling and continuously seems worse as the time goes by. Symptoms may be described as being itchy, stinging, scratchy, or tired. Other symptoms can be redness, pain, pressure in the back of, pulling sensations, and there could be a feeling of something being in there. The damage to the surface makes the discomfort feel worse and there will be a sensitivity to light. In most cases it is going to affect both of them. Sometimes, it causes a stringy discharge. However odd it may seem, having dry eyes can cause them to water. The reason behind this is due to irritation, whereas, they can experience an excess of tears, just as they would if something were to get into them.
Furthermore, these being reflex tears, they are not going to actually make them feel better, and the reason why is because they are going to be the watery kind that occurs in response to emotion, irritation, or injury, and are not actually tears, which will not have any lubrication within it in order to help prevent dryness. Blinking is the way our body responds and coats the eyes with tears and if they cannot do this, the symptoms of being dry will get worse, even more so with activities that reduces the blinking process, such as prolonged computer usage, reading, watching television, and driving. The symptoms are going to be increased if in the wind, smoky areas (tobacco smoke included), dust, environments that are dry, such as high altitudes, including days that have low humidity, airplanes, places where air-conditioners are being used (more so in a vehicle), heaters, fans, and where hair dryer is in use. The symptoms are reduced when the weather is cooler, like when it is rainy, in humid places, when the weather is foggy, and in the shower.
A majority of the people who have dryness are going to experience only a mild irritation and they will not have long term effects. Although, should the condition go untreated or worsen, complications can occur causing further damage, and this damage can result in one’s vision being impaired or the loss of vision altogether (rare). The key is in assessing the symptoms for the diagnosis of dryness. The reason why many people believe that the dryness syndrome is a disease that is symptom based. There have been many different questionnaires developed for determining a score, which would be beneficial for reaching a diagnosis for dryness syndrome. The questionnaires used are the McMonnies & Ho, which are often used for clinical studies on the dryness disease.
If one of the three layers of tears should have any abnormalities, producing unstable tear film, it will result in having symptoms of the dryness disease. Often, keratoconjunctivitis occurs because of an inadequacy in the production of tears that is caused from lacrimal hypo-secretion or from excessive evaporation of the tears. This affects the aqueous tear layer and results in having aqueous tear deficiency (ATD). Leaving it up to the lacrimal gland to produce enough tears to be able to cover the conjunctiva and the cornea’s entire layer completely, which it cannot do. This being something which will usually occur in those that are generally healthy. It is the type to be most common in postmenopausal women and it has been associated to the decreased tearing as one gets older.
The reasons for this include congenital alacrima, lacrimal gland ablation, idiopathic, xerophthalmia, and the sensory denervation. There are some rare cases where it is a symptom of having collagen vascular diseases, that can include rheumatoid arthritis, relapsing polychondritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Drugs which can cause this condition to worsen are sedatives, tricyclic antidepressants, etc.