Most of us have experienced dry eyes from time to time, particularly if you’ve ever worn contact lenses. Medical personnel have long known the danger of dry eyes. For example, if a patient is hospitalized and can’t blink for some reason, measures are taken to keep the eyes shut and moist. This is to prevent damage to the eye.
Interestingly, there is also a syndrom called dry eye syndrome. According to Dry Eye Info:
Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by loss of water from the tear film. When the tear film loses water the concentration of salts and proteins, relative to the amount of water, increases–the tear film concentration increases. When tear film concentration increases scientists say that its “osmolarity” increases. This increase in tear film osmolarity causes the characteristic irritation and changes on the eye surface known as dry eye syndrome. People with dry eye typically experience sandy-grittyirritated eyes or burning eyes that get worse as the day goes on.
In this past June’s issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, researchers reported that dry eye is increasing in incidence and more people are seeking help for it. If dry eye isn’t treated, it can lead to infections and visual problems.
Researchers in Boston looked at the records of 25,444 men who had participated in earlier studies. Of those men, 3% (765) reported that they had been diagnosed with dry eye, while 6.8% said they’d had at least dryness or irritation often or constantly. Another 2.2% said they had both dryness and irritation at the same time.
Broken down by demographics, the researchers found that the highest percentage of dry eye syndrome (4.34%) was among men who were aged 50 years or older, with it occurring even more often in men 75 years or older. This number is significantly higher than that of women who get dry eye. They are estimated to develop dry eye at about 3.23%.
Associated illnesses among the men were:
high blood pressure and/or the medications used to treat it
benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland) and/or the medications used to treat it
medications used to treat depression
There are other causes of dry eye. They include:
Sjogren’s syndrome - an illness that results in dryness in the mouth, nose, eyes, nose, throat, and other areas of the body
If you suspect you may have dry eyes, you should speak to your doctor or eye doctor as soon as possible to see if it can be managed or treated.