Dr. Shohreh Omidi
What is dry eye? Our eyes need tears to stay healthy and comfortable. If your eyes do not make enough tears, it is called dry eye. Dry eye also happens when tears are not made of the right mix of elements, or when the tear film is not as it should be.
How do tears work?
When you blink, a film of tears spreads over the eye. This keeps the eye’s surface smooth and clear. The tear film is important for good vision. The tear film is made of three layers:
An oily layer
A watery layer
A mucus layer
Each layer of the tear film serves a purpose.
The oily layer is the outside of the tear film. It makes the tear surface smooth and keeps tears from drying up too quickly. This layer is made in the eye’s meibomian glands (oil glands along the edge of the eyelids). The water layer is the middle of the tear film. It makes up most of what we see as tears. This layer cleans the eye, washing away particles that do not belong in the eye. This layer comes from the lacrimal glands in the eyelids. The mucus layer is the inner layer of the tear film. This helps spread the watery layer over eye’s surface, keeping it moist. Without mucus, tears would not stick to the eye. Mucus is made in the conjunctiva. This is the clear tissue covering the white of your eye and inside your eyelids.
Normally, our eyes constantly make tears to stay moist. If our eyes are irritated, or we cry, our eyes make a lot of tears. But, sometimes the eyes don’t make enough tears out something affects one or more layers of the tear film. In those cases, we end up with dry eyes.
What are symptoms of dry eye?
You feel like your eyes are stinging and burning.
You feel there is something in your eye
Having strings mucus in or around your eyes
Red or irritated eye
Painful to wear contact lenses
Having lots of tears in your eyes.
What causes dry eye?
People tend to make fewer tears as they get older due to hormonal changes. Both men and women can get dry eye. However, it is more common in women—especially those who have gone through menopause.
Some other causes of dry eye:
Certain disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disease, and lupus
Being in smoke, wind or a very dry climate
Looking at a computer for long time
Having LASIK surgery
Taking certain medicines, such as:
Diuretics, Beta- blocker, Allergy and cold medicines (antihistamines), Sleeping pills, anxiety and antidepressant medicines, heartburn medicines
Treating dry eye culprits:
If your eyes are irritated, your ophthalmologist can treat those problems. They may recommend:
Prescription eye drops or ointments
Warm compresses on eyes
Massaging your eyelids
Certain eyelid cleansers
However, several studies has indicated that Acupuncture is one option for dry eye disease. One reason for effectiveness of Acupuncture as a treatment for eyes disease is that acupuncture is able to modulate the Autonomic nervous system and immune system which in turn it might regulate lacrimal gland function. Several studies showed suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture on dry eye compared with artificial tears. Other studies showed that combination of Acupuncture and artificial tears are most effective type of treatment.
Dry eye prevention tips:
Try not to use hair dryer, if possible.
Stay away from warm rooms. In the winter add moisture to the air with a humidifier.
Protect your eyes from drying wind.
Add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.
Use your artificial tear ointment or thick eye drops before you go to bed.
And get Accupuncture treatment on regular basis, more in winter time.
Lee, M.S., Shin,B.C., Choi, T.Y.,& Ernst, E. (2011). Acupuncture for treating dry eye: a systematic review. Acta Opthalmologica, 89(2), 101-106.
Nepp, J., Wedrich, A., Akramian, J., Derbolav, A.,Mudrich, C.,Ries, E., & Schauersberger, J. (1998). Dry eye treatment with acupuncture. In Lacrimal Gland. Tearfilm, and Dry Eye Syndromes 2 (pp. 1011-1016). Springer, Boston, MA.