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Svjetlost is the leading ophthalmology Clinic in the Southeastern Europe, offering complete ophthalmic services.

Do you know what the dry eye is and what are the symptoms?

Do you know what the dry eye is and what are the symptoms?
Dry eye problems begin without major symptoms, but gradually deteriorate. Most often, patients complain of eye irritation, foreign body sensation, sometimes itching, and advanced stage of pain and strong light-sensitivity (photophobia).
Dry eye syndrome is caused by insufficient lachrymation or due to disturbance in the quality of tear film. Tears are essential for the lubrication, nutrition, health and optic functions of the front surface of the eye and clear vision. In addition, they reduce the possibility of infection, wash the foreign bodies out of the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clean. With each blink of an eye, tears cover front surface of the eye, attachments and cornea. The excess of tears run into small drainage channels in the inner corner of the eye and continue into the nasal cavity. 

Since blinking lubricates the eyes, the symptoms of dry eye worsen in activities that do not require much blinking, such as reading, using a computer, watching television, or driving.

Symptoms also exacerbate in windy, dry conditions and close to cigar smoke, and they improve when it rains and is foggy due to high humidity. 

Dry eye syndrome is more and more common in people today who wear contact lenses for a long time (about 70% of those wearing soft contact lenses complain of dry eyes) work in air-conditioned rooms as well as people who spend most of their time on the computer.

Tears are a product of several glands inside and around the eyelids. Tears consist of three layers: oil/lipids, water and mucus. Each component serves as a protection and care facility for the front surface of the eye. The smooth oily/lipid layer prevents the drainage of the aqueous layer, this outer layer of lipid prevents the tear vapour and reduces the surface tension (stabilizes the tear film) and is borne by Meibomian gland. The middle aqueous layer contains lysozyme and immunoglobulin A (IgA) and is eradiated by a narrow gland. The mucous membrane function is to uniformly spread the tears over the surface of the eye and this inner layer of mucus that binds the conjunctival cells and the tear gland has the role of wetting and further stabilization of the tear film. If the tears evaporate too fast or are not uniformly dispersed over the cornea due to the shortage of any of these three layers, the symptoms of dry eye develop. A most frequent form of dry eyes is an insufficient amount of water layer in tears.

Dry eye problems begin without major symptoms but gradually deteriorate. Most often, patients complain of eye irritation, foreign body sensation, sometimes itching, and an advanced stage of pain and strong light sensitivity (photophobia). 

When only one layer of the tear film is damaged, patients sometimes complain of increased drying intensity, which is a paradox. This can be explained by the fact that there is an increased production of the tear layer in the insufficient production of the other two layers of tear film. 

An unusual symptom of dry eyes is tears at the edges of the eye. This happens in response to damage to the eye surface. Unfortunately, this tear doesn’t have an oily component necessary for the eye to keep its moisture. For this reason, you may have tearful eyes but still, have a feeling of dryness.

Dr. Maja Bohač, Head of the Department of Refractive Surgery