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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Dry Eyes? Wear Sunglasses Even When It’s Overcast And Chilly!

If you find yourself wiping tears too often, you might not think it’s the cause of your dry eyes – but it’s the most likely cause, and the remedy could be as simple as wearing sunglasses, even on cloudy, cold days .

Dry eye, although already a common problem affecting 30% of people over the age of 50, is becoming more common. According to a recent survey of 2,000 people by eye care specialist company Thea UK, there has been a 19% increase in the number of people diagnosed with dry eye in the past 12 months.

Like grittiness, dry eye — counterintuitively — causes excess tears, which is the body’s way of trying to rehydrate the eye’s surface.

While it is only a mild irritation for some, severe cases can lead to impaired vision and irreversible eye damage, says Alex Ionides, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital London.

Dry eye, although already a common problem affecting 30% of people over the age of 50, is becoming more common. Diagnosis of dry eye has increased by 19% in the past 12 months, according to a recent survey of 2,000 people by eye care specialist company Thea UK

Dry eye becomes more common with age, Mr Ionides explained, because

Dry eye becomes more common with age because “from the age of 50, the meibomian glands do not produce enough oily secretions to completely cover the cornea, which means tears are not sealed and evaporate more easily ’, explains Mr Ionides

The eye is normally lubricated by a tear film: the first layer consists of what Mr Ionides calls “clear mucus”, which keeps the cornea [the clear outer surface of the eye] bathed in liquid’.

On top of this mucous membrane “mucus” is a layer of watery tears. This has antimicrobial properties that help keep your cornea healthy. The most important is the upper oily layer produced by the meibomian glands (small glands in the eyelids), which seals in moisture and prevents it from evaporating.

Dry eye becomes more common with age, Mr Ionides explained, because “from the age of 50, the meibomian glands do not produce enough oily secretions to completely cover the cornea, which means tears are not being absorbed. airtight and evaporates more easily”.

Dry eye can also occur in people who have had laser eye surgery because the surgery reduces the sensitivity of the nerves on the surface of the eye that normally sense the need to shed tears

Dry eye can also occur in people who have had laser eye surgery because the surgery reduces the sensitivity of the nerves on the surface of the eye that normally sense the need to shed tears

It’s also common during menopause, adds Nigel Kirkpatrick, a consultant ophthalmologist at Newmedica, an NHS chain and private eye practice.

‘The drop in estrogen causes the mucous membranes to dry out and the glands to produce less of the vital moisturizing fluid. This can leave the eye feeling gritty, irritated, and looking red.

But why is dry eye more common? This is partly due to greater use of air conditioning and central heating (which also increases evaporation) and increased time spent staring at screens, as we blink less while doing so, and our blinks cause screens to Surface spreads moisture to eyes.

But increased contact lens use is also a culprit, as it causes more tear film to evaporate. “Contact lenses are semi-submerged in the tear film, which disrupts the careful water balance and leads to increased evaporation,” Mr Ionides said.

Dry eye can also occur in people who have had laser eye surgery because the procedure reduces the sensitivity of the nerves on the surface of the eye that normally sense the need to shed tears.

Dry eyes can also affect vision. “The tear film is the first surface that light hits when it enters the eye,” Mr Ionides said. “With poor quality, images can be blurry, and if the cornea isn’t flushed with enough tears, it can become uncomfortable and sensitive to light.”

“If left untreated, severe dry eye can lead to inflammation of the tissues around the eye, abrasion of the corneal surface and ulceration of the cornea,” Mr Kirkpatrick said. “In extreme cases, it can lead to loss of vision.”

The eye is normally lubricated by a tear film: the first layer consists of what Mr Ionides likens to

The eye is normally lubricated by a tear film: the first layer consists of what Mr Ionides calls “clear mucus”, which keeps the cornea [the clear outer surface of the eye] bathed in liquid’. On top of this mucous membrane “mucus” is a layer of watery tears. This has antimicrobial properties that help keep your cornea healthy.On top is the upper oily layer produced by the meibomian glands (small glands in the eyelids), which seals in moisture and prevents it from evaporating

Mild cases respond well to warm flannel on the eyes. “The warmth melts the oily secretions in the meibomian glands, making them more runny, and a gentle massage around your eye will help empty the contents of the glands onto the cornea to replenish the outer oily layer,” says Mr Ionides .

Wearing a pair of sunglasses when you’re out in cold and windy weather (sunny or not) will limit the evaporation of tears.

Sunglasses, like eyeglasses, create a pocket of warm, moist air in front of your eyes, protecting your eyes from evaporation from breezes.

And don’t forget to blink. “During periods of full concentration, the eyes subconsciously avoid blinking so as not to lose sight of the complex task at hand,” Mr Ionides said. “But it gives the tears more time to evaporate.”

Stopping contact lenses can also help if you have dry eyes, says Mr Ionides.

“If you stop wearing them for a week or so, dry eye symptoms usually go away as the tear film returns to its normal formulation and structure.”

As for eye drops, most contain the chemicals polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol, which coat the eye and prevent the tear film from evaporating.

Optometrists recommend choosing “paraben-free” glasses to avoid any chemicals that could irritate already irritated eyes.

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