Find out the facts about dry eyes and learn how to treat this condition.
Nov 11, 2015
Blinking. Why Is It So Important?
People normally blink around 10,000 times a day. During each blink, your eyes are shut for around 0.3 seconds, happening as often as every 2 – 10 seconds, for a total of about 30 minutes each day.1 Blinking is necessary to replenish moisture by spreading a thin film of tears across your eyes and to clean the eye surface.2, 3 If this tear film doesn’t spread sufficiently across your eye, it may result in dry eyes and cause eye irritation.2, 3
Do You Have Dry Eyes?
Millions of people suffer from dry eyes, yet some who experience the symptoms don’t realize the cause. To find out if you are at risk of having dry eyes, take a look at a few possible symptoms and answer:
Do you sometimes have blurred vision, especially at the end of the day? 2, 3
Do your eyes become easily irritated by dry indoor environments like offices and airplanes?
Do your eyes often burn, sting, and turn red? 3, 4, 5
Do you feel like something scratchy or gritty is in your eyes? 3, 4, 5
Do you have excessive tearing? 2, 4, 5
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you may have a dry eye condition. Dry eye is a more complex condition than you may think. It is a good idea to visit your eye care professional if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Dry eye is frequently misunderstood and often mistaken for other conditions such as eye allergies or infections.
What Happens When You Have Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes are caused by a lack of sufficient moisture on your eyes because of an inadequate quality or quantity of tears.4 If the eyes are not lubricated enough, either by low quantity or poor quality of tears, it causes discomfort and leads to your eyes being irritated and not protected.
Low quantity of tears
Decreased quantity of tears is a result of not producing enough tears to moisten your eyes. There are many causes for decreased quantity of tears including age, hormones, some medical conditions, certain medications, eye surgery, and damage to the tear gland, just to name a few.2, 4
Poor quality tears
Your tear film consists of three basic layers: fatty oils, water and mucus.5 These tear film layers keep the surface of your eyes clear, smooth and protected.2 Problems with any of these layers can produce poor-quality tears which allow dry spots to form on your eye, leading to irritation.
Outer Lipid Layer
Middle Aqueous Layer
Inner Mucous Layer
Contains fatty oils that help prevent the evaporation of tears.
Contains mostly water, a little salt and important nutrients that cleanse your eyes and carry oxygen to ocular tissues.
Helps to spread the tears evenly over the eye and stabilize the tear film.
A lack of water within the tear film is the most common form of dry eye. This condition is called dry eye syndrome, or in medical terms keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS).4
Things To Do If You Think You Have Dry Eyes
Maintaining good eye health and hygiene can help. Remember to blink while staring at the computer, reading or other concentration-centric tasks.4 Lubricating artificial tears can provide comfort and temporary relief for the signs and symptoms of dry eye.2 By adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, you may help promote healthy tears.4 Take a supplement or eat foods like oily fish, seeds, nuts and leafy green vegetables. Use hypoallergenic lid-cleansing wipes as part of your daily regimen. This can protect against trapped dirt and debris that can cause irritation and may lead to infection.
If left untreated, dry eye syndrome can result in more frequent eye infections, surface scarring of your eye and an overall decreased quality of life.2 Talk to your eye care professional to get a proper diagnosis. An eye care professional can assess the quantity and quality of your tears and recommend suitable treatment. In some cases, the treatment is as simple as a lifestyle change and lubricating eye drops. Other, more serious cases may lead to surgery. It is best to discuss possible treatments with your eye care professional.