Dry eye disease is an extremely prevalent disease that affects both men and women. Essentially, dry eye happens when a person chronically cannot produce tears normally, or their tears evaporate faster than usual.
The Anatomy of Tears
To understand dry eye, it might be best to first fully understand the chemistry of tears. Tears are composed of three layers: the oil layer, the water layer, and the mucus layer. The oil layer makes the tears smooth and helps them from drying too quickly. The water layer makes up the majority of our tears, and it is what clears out any irritants from our eyes. The mucus layer helps to stick the tears to your eyes so that they will stay in place to keep your eyes moist.
If your eyes don’t produce enough tears, or if the composition of your tears is incorrect, they may dry up too quickly and cause irritation. One thing that may change the composition of your tears would be hormone changes in your body that happen with age. Contact lenses can also cause irritation, especially in conjunction with dry eye.
How to Treat Dry Eye
If you have an eye exam, your optometrist will most likely recommend the use of artificial tears. These are like eye drops that are meant to replace your body’s natural tears. This helps keep the eyes lubricated when your body can’t seem to produce the tears itself. Eye exams are very important if you are suffering from dry eye. It is the only way for your optometrist to know what is wrong with your tear production. If hormones are the cause of your dry eye, the optometrist may prescribe steroid eye drops or a number of other medications that can handle the inflammation associated with chronic dry eye.