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Dry Eyes Burning You Out?

Aug 17, 2007
'Dry eyes' refers literally to what it means - the eyes not having enough of hydration. Why does this happen? It could be because of a lack of the watery secretion of the tear glands. It could be because of a lack of mucin secretion which is the mucous layer in the eye and the third reason could be a lack of lipids, which means the tears evaporate as fast as they are made!

Your tear glands are also called lachrymal glands and they are constantly releasing a watery substance to keep your eyes moist and hydrated. Of course, when you laugh too much or cry, these glands go berserk and go into an overproduction mode so you find yourself wiping away a copious flow of tears. As long as your eyes are hydrated, you face a lowered risk of any infections in the eye. So when the tear glands start producing less, there's cause to worry. How do you know that it isn't enough? Besides the itchy, irritable feeling? There is a test that your eye physician will probably subject you to in order to measure how dry your eyes are. This is a sort of litmus test for the eyes and the measurement of the aqueous fluid in them. It involves testing with a strip of paper that measures the amount of hydration. If the score you get is less than 10, it means you have a dry eye problem. Of course, how much below 10 shows you how serious the problem is.

The other problem could be the lack of enough secretion of the mucin layer in your eye. This is the layer that lies between the eye surface and the inside watery layer. When this mucous-like fluid is deficient, there is not enough of this slightly sticky substance to keep the eyes moist. This, too, could result in an uncomfortable or scratchy feeling in the eye. Sometimes, a lack of mucin makes one feel like there is a piece of grit in the eye that won't go away. Measuring this is not common but one can deduce that if it isn't any other cause, it could be a mucin deficiency.

The third problem could be a lack of lipids. When this happens, the tears that are made by your tear glands evaporate so fast that you are left with dry eyes. This can be determined by doing a 'tear break-up time test' where a little bit of dye is put into your eye and the evaporation time monitored. As the tears evaporate, the dye gets deposited as spots and this is how the physician knows that the tears are disappearing from your eyes. This process is observed through a special lamp and the time taken for the dye spots to appear is how they calculate just how bad your problem is. In normal eyes, it takes about 10 to 15 seconds for the dye spots to appear. Anything less than this and it's a deficiency. This, too results in the usual itchy feeling and sometimes a constant feeling of discomfort.
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