As the name suggests, dry eyes are a result of decreased tear production in the eye or increased evaporation of the tear film. The function of a tear film is to help the eye maintain a normal, optimal vision. Dry eyes can also result due to an abnormal production of mucus or lipids secreted by one of the three tear layers. Decreased production of tears is usually seen with age, hormonal changes or several autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Even medications like antihistamines, anti-depressants or oral contraceptives may lead to dry eyes. Moreover, at times due to decreased blinking of eyes or difficulty in closing them, tears tend to evaporate, resulting in dry eyes. So, while reading, watching television or performing any task which requires optimum attention, it is often seen that one suffers from dry eyes. In the medical dictionary, dry eyes are known as “keratoconjunctivitis sicca”, a Latin term which means “dryness of the cornea and conjunctiva”. It affects a significant portion of the population, especially those who have reached the age of 40. Besides making your eyes feel scratchy and gritty, dry eyes have several other symptoms. Let us see what exactly they are.
Signs & Symptoms Of Dry Eyes
- Your eyes may feel tired, along with a sensation of pain and pressure.
- A tinge of redness is also noticed in patients complaining of dry eyes. If not treated in time, the redness can worsen.
- An itchy, scratchy, stingy feeling in the eye, quite similar to the feeling as if a foreign body has got stuck in the eye, is also noticed.
- It can also result in watery discharge. One can experience excessive tears during dry eyes, also known as reflex tears. This is caused due to severe irritation. Additionally, reflux tears do not possess any lubricating qualities which can provide relief and comfort to the eye.
- With prolonged dry eye condition, one can also experience a condition of blurred vision. This impaired vision of the eye clearly signals that it is time for the eyes to rest.
- Dry eye can also lead to oversensitivity to extreme light. When the eyes are exposed to sunlight, the symptoms seem to accentuate, worsening the existing status.
- Existing symptoms of dry eyes tend to increase in windy, dusty or smoky and high-altitude areas. Even days with very low level of humidity in the air can deteriorate the condition.
- Having dry eyes for a while and not attending to it in a proper manner can cause tiny abrasions on the surface of the eyes.
- Leaving dry eyes condition untreated can even lead to eye damage or vision loss.
- Eye inflammation, corneal infection and scarring can also result due to prolonged dry eye condition.
- In few advanced cases, the epithelium of the eye can undergo pathological changes. This condition is known as squamous metaplasia and results in the loss of goblet cells.
- Few other severe cases of dry eye condition have experienced the thickening of the corneal surface. At times, it leads to corneal erosion and hence visual impairment.