Dry eyes occur when there is a decrease in tear production, or when tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly. Elderly people frequently experience dryness of the eyes, but dry eyes can occur at any age.
Tears, made by the lacrimal gland, are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. Tears bathe the surface of the eye, keeping it moist, and washes away dust and debris. They also help protect the eye from bacterial and other types of infections.
Tears are constantly produced to nourish and protect the eye’s surface. They are also produced in response to emergencies, such as a particle of dust in the eye, irritation of the eye, or an onset of strong emotions. When the lacrimal glands fail to produce sufficient tears, it can result in dry eyes.
Inflammation of the eye can accompany dry eye syndrome due to the lack of moisture as a protective layer. If left untreated, this condition can lead to pain or scars on the cornea, and could potentially cause a loss of vision to some extent. However, permanent loss of vision from dry eyes is uncommon.
Dry eye symptoms include:
- Difficulty reading/concentrating on a computer screen for an extended period of time.
- Lowered tolerance to strong lighting, dry and dusty environment.
- Eye fatigue.
Why do dry eyes occur:
- Inflammation on the eye’s surface, the lacrimal gland, or the conjunctiva.
- Any disease that affects the meibomian or lacrimal gland function.
- Increase in the surface of the eye (eg. Thyroid disease when the eye protrudes forward).
- Aesthetics surgery, if the eyelids are opened too widely.
Dry eyes can be managed as an ongoing condition. The first priority is to determine if a disease is the underlying cause of dry eyes (such as lacrimal and meibomian gland dysfunction). If it is, then the underlying disease needs to be treated. The typical course of a TCM treatment for Dry Eye Syndrome includes acupuncture and herbal medication.
If symptoms of dry eye persist, consult our professional TCM physicians to get a diagnosis of the condition and begin treatment to avoid permanent damage.
Article by Physician Victoria Tan