Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are a very common problem. Approximately 15,000 Icelanders suffer from dry eyes. In patients with dry eyes, the eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears are not adequately made and they evaporate too quickly. The most common symptoms of dry eyes is excessive tearing and is usually the worst in the morning. Attention should be drawn to the main symptom of dry eyes, excessive tearing. This can often be exacerbated by dry and windy climates. In many cases, the aging effect of the meibomian glands is common, although younger people may also experience dry eyes. It is estimated that about 3/4 people 65 years of age and older will have dry eyes. Dry eyes are more common in women and occur more often in women who are pregnant or postmenopausal. There are probably 3,000 Icelanders with dry eyes associated with Sjögren's disease and / or rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, and 90% of those are women. People with allergies and contact lens wearers are also more prone to symptoms of dry eyes.

Key characteristics

Blurred vision
Scratchy sensation or irritated eyes
Eye discomfort when doing computer work, watching television or reading
Redness in the eyes

Many people are surprised that increased tear flow is one of the most common symptoms of dry eyes. These tears are formed because the eye becomes "irritable" and sensitive to things like smoke, heat and exhaust. 

What are the causes?

Often, dry eye goes undiagnosed. In dry eyes there has been a disturbance of tear production in the tear glands. We have one big tear duct above the eye and many small meibomian glands around the lids of the eye. The meibomian glands form the lipid layer of the tear film, which is very important parts of the tears, they ensure good lubrication of the eye from day to day. The big lacrimal gland generates emotional years and tears that occur when the eye is irritated. As we blink, the tears spread over the eyes and eventually end up in tunnels that are located in the corner of the eye near the nose (nasolacrmal ducts). The tunnel directs tears from the eyes down to the back of the nose.

As mentioned earlier, dry eyes are more common in various arthritis, autoimmune diseases and more common among women than men. Various other reasons and causes for dry eye syndrome are:

Drugs: Many drugs cause dry eyes, such as decongestants, many anti-allergy drugs, diuretics, beta-blockers (hypertensive agents), various hypnotics, antidepressants, painkillers. It may be noted that alcohol reduces tear production.

Contact lenses: Often cause dry eyes because the lenses absorb tears and reduce the tendency of blinking.

Computer Usage: We blink around 40% less often when we look at a computer screen than a book. This causes increased tear evaporation. Fans that are built into computers can also  dry the atmosphere around the computer.

Dry eyes can not be cured, but you can treat the symptoms of the disease. Knowledge and number of treatment routes have increased significantly in recent years.

Most of the time,  dry eye can be treated using artificial tears, which are available without a prescription in pharmacies. Avoid using drops that make eyes whiter. Artificial tears are available in both drop and ointment form. Artificial tear ointment and gels are used primarily for bedtime, because they last longer than normal artificial tears. Recently, there are drugs on the market that increase tear production (cyclosporin-A, Restasis), and some fatty acids, including Omega-3 (including fats), are thought to reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.

The use of special plug or stopper in tear ducts to reduce the tearing of the tears has increased steadily in recent years. In some cases, you may need to have a closed tear duct opened.

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