Dry eyes - also known as sicca syndrome - can have various causes. Not infrequently, the symptoms are caused by hours sitting in front of the computer. But environmental stimuli, certain diseases and the wearing of contact lenses come as a trigger in question. The complaints can usually be well alleviated by tear substitutes in the form of drops or gels. We will give you tips on further treatment options for dry eyes.
Why are eyes dry?
Dry eyes are referred to when the conjunctiva and the cornea are no longer wetted with sufficient tear fluid. There are several reasons for this: There is no longer enough tear fluid produced, the composition of the tear fluid has changed or the blink frequency has fallen. Likewise also environmental stimuli play an important role, which often provide for an increased evaporation of the tear fluid.
For the production of tear fluid, several glands are responsible. These sit in the eye socket, in the conjunctiva, on the edges of the eyelids and under the upper eyelid. The blink of an eye - within a minute, the eyelid usually opens and closes between 10 and 15 times - the tear film is spread on the surface of the eye. Through small openings on the upper and lower Lidinnenkanten the tear fluid is gradually transported away again.
Diseases as a cause
Dry eyes can be caused by a variety of diseases. Therefore, you should always consult a doctor if the symptoms persist for a longer period of time. Among other things, the following diseases are the cause in question:
- Disease of the sebaceous glands at the edge of the lid
- Change in the shape of the eyeball
- Conjunctival scarring
- Vitamin A deficiency
- nerve damage
- Sjogren's syndrome
In addition, dry eyes can also occur as a concomitant of rheumatism, diabetes or thyroid disease. Women also suffer more often from dry eyes after menopause, as the function of the lacrimal glands can be reduced by the hormonal change.
Environmental stimuli lead to dry eyes
Dry eyes do not always have to be a disease. Often, environmental stimuli such as tobacco smoke, car exhaust, air conditioning or dry heating air are responsible for the complaints. They irritate the eyes and ensure that the tear fluid evaporates faster.
In addition, dry eyes can also be caused by the intake of certain medications. These include antihistamines or beta-blockers, as well as analgesics such as acetylsalicylic acid.
Computer work as a cause
In people who work a lot on the computer, the eyelid frequency is often greatly reduced. In extreme cases, only once or twice per minute is blinked. The lack of eyelid blow can lead to dry eyes in the long term. Therefore, make regular breaks while working and be sure to blink as regularly as possible. In addition to people with office jobs, even older people and people with contact lenses are particularly affected by dry eyes.
Red eyes, burning eyes
If the eyes are dry, they are often also red and itch or burn. It may also be that they are extremely sensitive to light. Red, itchy or burning eyes, however, may have other causes.
For example, red eyes may indicate conjunctivitis. Similarly, injury or chemical burns as a trigger in question. Red eyes, however, can also have innocuous causes such as a burst blood vessel. In general, you should always go to the ophthalmologist at a redness of the eyes, which does not regress within a short time. This is especially true if the eye itches, tears or is sensitive to light.
Itchy eyes often appear as part of hay fever. Special eye drops can then help relieve the discomfort. If the eyes itch or burn, it can also be a sign of eye infection. The burning can also be triggered by a trapped insect or a speck of dust.
Eye drops relieve the discomfort
For the treatment of dry eyes very often eye drops - so-called artificial tears - are used. They form a fine liquid film on the surface of the eye and thereby relieve the discomfort. If liquid drops do not have a satisfactory effect, gels can also be used. These have the advantage that they permanently stabilize the tear film. Make sure that the drops contain no preservatives, as this may increase the discomfort.
Before using the drops, you should wash your hands thoroughly so that no germs get into your eyes. Tilt the head slightly backwards to drip, pull the lower lid slightly down and dribble the drop into the conjunctival sac. Make sure that the drop tip does not touch the eye. Then close the eye for ten seconds.
Tips against dry eyes
Dry eyes can have many different causes. Depending on the cause, different tips can help to alleviate the symptoms:
- Ensure a sufficiently high humidity, for example by a humidifier. Also treat your eyes to fresh air regularly.
- Avoid smoke and dust.
- Drink at least two liters - if possible water - per day.
- Make sure your eye blinks are high enough if you use the computer more often. Take breaks during which you consciously blink and perform relaxation exercises for the eyes.
- Avoid drafts - for example, the ventilation in the car should not face the eyes.
- Sleep enough. Due to lack of sleep, the symptoms usually worsen significantly.
- Use low-irritant cosmetics.
Persons with contact lenses should refrain from using the lenses when wearing dry eyes, or at least wearing them alternately with glasses. To avoid damage to the eye, contact lens wearers should wet eyes with artificial tears as needed.
In case of doubt to the doctor
If you have dry eyes for a longer period, you should consult an ophthalmologist. This is the only way to safely avoid damage to the horn or conjunctiva. The doctor can determine if enough tear fluid is formed. This is done by the so-called Schirmer test, in which a small filter paper strip is placed in the conjunctival sac. With the help of a fluorescent liquid, he can also examine the tear film on the eye closer.
If too little tears are produced, the doctor will check the lacrimal fluid composition, lacrimal gland function, lid position and corneal surface area. If there is no disease behind the symptoms, it may be useful to temporarily close the tear spots. This prevents the tear fluid from flowing out of the eye. Ask your ophthalmologist for advice.