Dry Eyes & Conjunctivitis

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What is dry eye and why do I have it?

Dry eye is a condition that is characterized mainly by a significant lack of tears in the eyes to keep them lubricated and to provide them with sufficient nourishment. Dr. Forgey, an ophthalmologist in Nebraska, emphasizes that tears are not merely a negligible fluid excretion. They are actually very essential in helping to ensure that the health of the eyes are maintained so that the anterior surface is always well-lubricated, enough to provide the patient with crystal clear vision. Each time that a person blinks there is a layer of tears that is spread across and covers the exposed front surface of the eyes or the cornea. This layer of tears is important mainly because it provides lubrication to keep this surface of the eye clear and smooth, it washes away any dirt or foreign materials that could have entered the eye, and it helps in reducing the risk of an eye infection. In an average person, the amount of tears that is produced may exceed the amount that is needed to do all these things and so the excess tears are drained from the eyes into the drainage ducks that are located on the inner corners of the eyelids.

When patients experience dry eyes, it means that they are not producing enough tears to sustain their eyes, or the tears they are producing are not of a good enough quality. Dry eyes can occur at any stage in life and can become a chronic affliction as the patient ages. There are a number of factors that can affect the development of dry eyes and these include the following:

  • The amount of tears produced by a person normally decreases with age and can be affected by an underlying medical condition, or significantly reduced as one of the side effects of taking a specific type of medication. External environmental factors could also influence the type of tears that are produced by person. Being exposed to dry climates or strong winds can significantly affect the volume of tears produced by a person because of an increase in the rate of tear in evaporation. Any of these factors can contribute to an insufficient amount of tears that could potentially lead to the development of the symptoms of dry eyes.
  • Dry eyes may also be caused by the poor quality of the patient’s tears. Tears are normally comprised of three layers, these being water that minimizes friction and keeps the surface of the eye smooth and clear; oil that prevents the water layer from evaporating too quickly, and a mucin layer that serves to evenly spread out the tears over the surface of the eye. If any of these components are missing, the quality of the tears will become inadequate and they will not be able to perform their functions, thereby precipitating the symptoms of dry eyes.

How can dry eyes be treated?

Doctors usually prescribe medications that will make the patient more comfortable and manage the chronic condition overtime. Artificial tears have been very effective in supplementing the patient’s natural tear production. Prescription medicine to increase the production of tears have also been used, asked have other preparations that help reduce inflammation around the eyes. Additional steps like blocking the patient’s tear ducks have also been found to alleviate the condition by preventing the immediate drainage of tears and keeping them on the surface of the eyes for longer.

What is conjunctivitis and why do I have it?

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is a condition characterized by the inflammation or infection of the blood vessels in the conjunctiva of the eyes, or the transparent membrane that covers the white portion of the eyeballs and lines the inner portion of the eyelids. Most common cause of conjunctivitis is a bacterial or viral infection. They may also brought on by an allergic reaction, a foreign object entering the eye, or a blocked tear duct in infants. Any of these code results to an irritated conjunctiva and could possibly affect the patient’s vision. Conjunctivitis is a contagious condition that needs to be treated right away to prevent it from spreading from one person to another.

What treatment is there for conjunctivitis?

The treatment for conjunctivitis will depend upon the prevailing cause of the condition.

  • Viral conjunctivitis makes use of no special medication or treatment regimen, but the infection will be allowed to run its course until the symptoms begin to disappear on their own. It will usually take 2 to 3 weeks for this type of conjunctivitis to clear up.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with the use of antibiotic eye drops that helps improve on the symptoms of the condition within several days. Antibiotic eye ointments may also be used, although they could sometimes cause blurry vision after their application.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis is treated by addressing the underlying cause of the reaction. This is usually achieved with the help of antihistamines, decongestants, steroids, or other anti-inflammatory medication.