Dry eye syndrome is a condition that affects more than 350 million people worldwide. For example, as much as 25% of the population suffers in Italy.

It is good to start treating this condition early, as it can progressively worsen.

Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome particularly affects women aged 45 years and older (45%) and in menopause (90%). There are two types of dry eye syndrome: 

  • Dyslacrimia, which results from excessive tear evaporation;
  • Hypolacrimia, which is caused by reduced tear production. 

Dyslacrimia, responsible for 86% of dry eye cases, is caused by obstruction of the Meibomian glands in the eyelids. These glands produce the lipid layer of tears. Still, if they do not function properly, they do not secrete enough oily substances in the tear film. This will cause pain and the sensation of having a foreign body in the eye. As a result, the tears evaporate too quickly. 

Hypolacrimia, on the other hand, occurs when the lacrimal glands do not create a sufficient amount of aqueous solution, which would then be able to maintain ocular moisture. It usually occurs due to autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome or scleroderma. 

Dry eye: The most common symptoms

The most common symptoms that could indicate the presence of dry eye include:

  • Dry eye;
  • Discomfort and irritation;
  • Tingling or sensation of a foreign body in the eye;
  • Burning sensation or pain;
  • Excessive tearing;
  • Redness;
  • Discharge;
  • Fatigue;
  • Itching;
  • Visual disturbances;
  • Photophobia.

Dry eye: Risk factors

Obstruction of the Meibomian glands could be linked to hormonal imbalances in women during menopause, particularly the decrease in estrogen levels. 

Not only that, their dysfunction could also be caused by:

  • Age;
  • The use and hygiene of contact lenses;
  • The use of cosmetics;
  • Diseases, such as diabetes;
  • Certain medications, such as isotretinoin used to treat acne;
  • Eye drops used for glaucoma treatment;
  • Helicobacter Pylori gastritis;
  • Gastroesophageal reflux;
  • Acne rosacea;
  • Seborrheic dermatitis;
  • Blepharitis;
  • After cataract and refractive surgery. 

Lifestyle also plays an important role. Additional risk factors are:

  • Prolonged use of devices such as smartphones or tablets;
  • Many hours spent in dry air environments;
  • Poor hydration;
  • Poorly balanced diet. 

Dry eye syndrome: Treatments

Treatment for dry eye syndrome is prescribed by a specialist after an eye examination and evaluation of clinical and instrumental data. Self-medication is absolutely to be avoided

The first phase of therapy is at home, using wipes, eye drops, eyelid-cleansing foams, and supplements. The second phase involves cycles of pulsed light treatments. Pulsed light stimulates the Meibomian glands to resume their normal function.

The treatment involves four 30-minute sessions, which are totally painless.

As there might be more than one cause, the specialist may also collaborate with a dermatologist, gastroenterologist, and immunologist.