Every time a person blinks, a film of tears spreads over the surface of the eye to make it smooth and clear. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes people just do not produce enough tears or the right quality of tears necessary to maintain healthy vision and comfort. This condition is known as Dry Eye.
The Anatomy of a Tear
Tear film consists of three layers, each with its own unique purpose:
- Oil or Lipid Layer: The outermost layer of the tear film is produced by the meibomian glands. Its primary purpose is to keep the tears nice and smooth while minimizing evaporation.
- Watery Layer: The middle layer of the tear film is produced by the lacrimal glands. Its primary purpose is to wash foreign debris from the eye.
- Mucus Layer: The inner most layer of the tear film is produced by the conjunctiva. Its primary purpose is to keep the eye moist. Without mucus, tears would simply not stick to the eye.
Tears are produced in two ways. 1) The eye makes tears at a slow, steady rate, keeping the eye well lubricated to maintain normal vision and comfort. 2) The eye makes tears as a response to irritation, like when foreign debris enters the eye, or emotion.
“Patients often ask me, ‘How can my eyes be dry? They are constantly tearing,” said board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles. “Well, the tearing is actually your body’s response to your dry eyes.”
While it may sound odd, people with dry eye may find their eyes produce quite a bit of tears as the eye responds to the irritation of the condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye
A 2007 American Journal of Ophthalmology study reported that individuals with Dry Eye Syndrome were hampered when trying to perform normal, everyday activities like reading, driving, using the computer, and more.
Diagnosing and Treating Dry Eye in Annapolis
Led by Dr. Boles, the Anne Arundel Eye Center (AAEC), located in Annapolis, Maryland, offers complete ophthalmic exams as well as diagnostic pre and post-surgical eye care. AAEC’s state-of-the-art treatment center is dedicated to making the best eye care accessible to everyone.
Anne Arundel Eye Center always welcomes new patients.
Managing Dry Eye at Home
An important part of controlling Blepharitis and Dry Eye involves daily lid hygiene at home:
- Wet a cloth with very warm water and place it over closed eyes for 5-10 minutes
Clean Lids and Lashes
- Clean lids with baby shampoo or Ocusoft Lid Scrubs
- Scrub gently side to side across the lashes with closed eyes
- Using the tip of your finger, press along the base of lashes
- Repeat a few times on upper and lower lids
- Don’t hurt yourself, but do use firm pressure!
- Repeat morning and evening as directed
If you have any questions about Dry Eye, please contact Dr. Boles, Dr. Kathryn Gurganus Turner, and the eye care specialists here at AAEC by calling 410-224-2010. AAEC is staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals who will help guide you on your healing journey.