Dry eye syndrome is an eye condition with multiple causes and affects 1 in 5 adults. Dry eyes can occur from a deficiency or instability with the tear film, which is essential for maintaining eye health and comfort.
Dry eye syndrome is classified by the type of tear deficiency since dry eyes are usually caused either by reduced water production in tears or increased evaporation of your tears.
If you experience itchy, swollen, dry eyes, you may have evaporative dry eye (EDE). A visit to your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam can provide you with treatments to help manage your dry eye symptoms.
Read on to learn more about evaporative dry eyes, their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Causes of Evaporative Dry Eye
Your tears are composed of a mixture of oil, water, and mucin. Each layer works together to keep your eyes moisturized, protected against foreign substances, and clear. An imbalance in these layers can lead to dry eyes.
The oily layer of the tear film is responsible for preventing your tears from evaporating too quickly. This layer is secreted by the meibomian glands, tiny glands lining the eyelids. If your meibomian glands become blocked or inflamed, your tears can evaporate too quickly, leading to EDE. EDE is common, accounting for 85% of dry eye cases.
Your meibomian glands can become blocked due to:
- Infrequent blinking, resulting in the accumulation of debris
- Skin conditions such as rosacea, face dermatitis, and psoriasis
- Medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy, or decongestants
- Conditions such as Sjögren’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid conditions
- Wearing contact lenses for extended periods
- Eye injuries affecting the eyelid
- Eye surgery
Risk Factors to Developing Evaporative Dry Eye
Almost anyone can get EDE, but some individuals are more at risk:
- Women are affected more than men
- People over 50
- People with diabetes
- People with oily skin conditions
Symptoms of Evaporative Dry Eye
Symptoms can vary due to the severity of your condition, but common symptoms include discomfort, irritation, and gritty eyes. Other symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Burning or stinging sensation
- Redness & soreness
- Swollen eyelids
- Stringy mucus
- Eye fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Watery eyes
Diagnosing Evaporative Dry Eye
EDE can be diagnosed during a routine eye exam. At Vision Care Center, we examine the meibomian glands, tear film break-up time, and the oily layer with:
- A corneal topographer
- A keratometer
- Color camera
Other tests can include:
- The Schirmer test to measure tear production volume
- Eye staining using specialized eye drops to measure the rate of tear evaporation
- Slit lamp exam to examine eye’s surface in detail
Treating Evaporative Dry Eye
If EDE is mild and caught early, treatment is often successful at reducing uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. However, chronic cases may require ongoing treatment. Always speak to your optometrist if you’re experiencing any pain or irritation in and around your eyes.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your dry eye symptoms:
- Use a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air.
- Apply warm compresses to your eyelids twice a day for a few minutes.
- Use lid scrubs to get rid of oil or bacteria along your eyelids.
- Visit your optometrist for an eyelid massage using a device in the doctor’s office to unblock meibomian glands. Massages can also be done using fingertips and gentle pressure.
- Use artificial tears, gels, or ointments for added comfort. These can help restore moisture in the eyes.
- Adjust your diet. Some studies have shown that Omega-3 fatty acids can help promote a healthy tear film.
- Discuss intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy with your optometrist. This treatment melts blockages in meibomian glands caused by meibomian gland dysfunction.
- Use eye exercises and blinking training to help improve your meibomian gland function.
- Speak to your eye doctor if you’re using prescription medication with ocular side effects.
Your Solution to Clear & Comfortable Vision
Living with the ongoing pain and discomfort of dry eyes can affect your quality of life. Without early intervention and treatment, dry eyes can worsen and lead to other complications, such as infection.
For clear, comfortable vision, book an appointment with Vision Care Center. We can find meaningful solutions to provide relief for your dry eyes.