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Dry Eye

​The eye needs a moist surface to function normally. Tears lubricate and contain chemicals that protect our eyes. Dry eye is a condition that occurs when our eyes produce insufficient tears on its surface to maintain adequate lubrication and protection. Consequently, our eyes are easily subjected to irritants leading to discomfort.

​Common tell-tale symptoms include:

  • Burning sensation
  • Watery eyes
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Feeling of sand or grit in the eyes
  • Transient blurring of vision

What causes dry eyes?


Harsh environmental factors and pollutants such as haze and smoke often irritate our eyes and cause discomfort. The low humidity in air-conditioned rooms and aircraft cabins are other common causes of dry eyes.


The rate of tear production as well as the "effectiveness" of tears decreases as we grow age. Dry eyes are more common in post-menopausal females.

Contact lenses

Some contact lens materials absorb more moisture from the eyes. As a result, some contact lens wearers may complain of dry eyes.

Visual tasks

Blinking at regular intervals is essential to recoating the surface of the eye with a film of tears. Prolonged staring at computer terminals and TV screens and reading decreases the frequency of blinking and sets the stage for dry eye.

Other causes

Medications such as antihistamines (for allergies and runny noses), decongestants (for sinusitis), anti-acne pills and certain blood pressure medications are often associated with dry eyes as a side effect.

​The types of treatment for patients with dry eyes will depend largely on the severity of their disease.

  • Artificial tears are commonly used to relieve most dry eye conditions.
  • Eye ointments, which are usually applied at bedtime, are also effective.
  • Punctal occlusion may be used in selected cases. In such cases, artificial plugs are used to decrease the drainage of tears, thus relieving symptoms. Plugs also help in retaining artificial tears, reducing the need for frequent application.
  • Potent medications such as steroids may be used to treat severe dry eyes.

How do I prevent dry eyes?

Dry eyes can be relieved by certain environmental modifications, such as avoiding smoky/polluted rooms and the installation of humidifiers. In addition, one can reduce the duration of near work, for example reading and working at computer terminals.

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