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Recognize The Symptoms Of Your Dry Eye

Aug 17, 2007
There could be a whole lot of causes for dry eyes. This syndrome happens when the eyes either do not produce enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly or there isn't enough of a binder to keep the tears in the eyes. It is found in human beings and certain animals. The Latin term for it is Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or KCS for short. In common parlance, it is also called DES or Dry Eye Syndrome. Literally, the term in Latin means a dryness of the conjunctiva and the cornea.

The hydration system in the eye is made up of three levels. The inside level keeps in the moisture. The level over that is hydrated by the tear glands and is responsible for keeping the eyes clean and maintaining the pH balance in the eye. Above that is a layer that contains a mucous-kind of substance that prevents the tears from evaporating. Together, these account for the tear content in your eyes. Around 10 million US people suffer from dry eyes.

Is there a particular time during our lives when we get dry eyes? Actually it can happen to anyone, at any age. But it has been observed that it happens most as we age, possibly due to the tear glands aging as well. More than three-quarters of our population above 65 suffer from it. This could be due to eye inflammation or hormonal changes. In fact a lot of women suffer from it after menopause. Does that mean that taking estrogen will help prevent this condition? No it does not. In fact, strangely, it can make it worse. There has been research done that shows that it could happen with a deficiency in the male hormone androgen too. This hormone seems to regulate the production of fluid in your eye.

Dry eyes could also be a side effect of certain medicines that you might be taking. This could be due to a wide array of medication like antidepressants, diuretics or steroids. Antihistamines or medication for allergies could also result in dry eyes. You would then do well to read up on your particular medication's side effects and discuss it with your physician so he can give you the options of whether your medication needs to be changed or you need to take something to neutralize the side effects.

Whatever your age, whatever the problem could be due to, one way that you can keep the problems down to a minimum is to blink your eyes as often as possible. You need to make a conscious effort to do this. How about huge reminders on your fridge door? Or on top of you computer screen? Sometimes just keeping the eyes open for a long time without blinking means that the tears evaporate too quickly - and we tend to stare unblinkingly at our computer screens. Dry eyes are also aggravated by dry winds, a smoke-laden atmosphere or air-conditioning. Heated rooms could also dry out the eyes. You'll find it also happens to people who tend to sleep with their eyes partially open - of course, there's not much you can do about this!
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