Dry eye is a disease pertaining to the ocular surface and instability of the tear film, potentially resulting in inflammation, dryness, or damage. Symptoms of this include burning, itching, dryness, photophobia, tiredness, and blurry vision.

Diagram of Conjunctiva, Lacrimal Gland, and mucus, water and oil layers of Tear Film in the eye
Source: American Academy of Optometry

Dry eye disease (DED) include two distinct types: aqueous deficient dry eye (ADDE) and evaporative dry eye (EDE). In ADDE, high levels of tear evaporation results when lacrimal secretion is reduced although there is normal evaporative conditions from the eye. Comparatively, in EDE, the lacrimal glands function normally, and the increased evaporation of tears is caused by the exposed tear film. Some patients might even have a mixed form of DED as well.

Risk factors for DED include connective tissue disease, Sjögren syndrome, androgen deficiency, Lasik eye surgery, certain environmental conditions (ie. pollution and low humidity), medication use (ie. antihistamines and antidepressants), computer use, and contact lens wear (which has an affect on tear film hemostasis and reduces its thickness). Research has shown that the outbreak of Covid-19 has also contributed to an increase in the likelihood of DED. Covid-19 has resulted in prolonged electronic usage and less outdoor activities, with a reported 44% increase in smartphone usage. Excessive focus on a screen decreases blink rate, decreasing the moisture production in the eye. This causes strain on the ocular surface, and this stress is greater in contact lens users.

Some recommendations for management and treatment of dry eye disease include ocular lubricants (eye drops of various types), warm compresses, expression of the meibomian glands (a process which we offer at Eyelab), lid hygiene, and prescribed drugs.

Source: Towfiqu Barbhuiy on Unsplash

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