One knows the worth of water only when the well goes dry. Likewise, the worth of tears can be really understood only when you have dry eyes. Most of the time, it is felt as subjective feeling rather than visible changes. Also, here dryness and excessive tearing (due to natural reflex mechanism to tackle the situation) usually confuse diagnosis. Medically dry eyes are termed as ‘Xerosis’.
Incidences and causes – Even though dry eyes can occur at any time and in anybody, it is mostly seen after infection, inflammation, injury or after wearing contact lens
for quite a long time. It is commonly seen in women around menopausal period. Also it is most commonly noted in elderly, dehydrated persons whose skin has lost its texture to hang loosely.
It can occur mainly due to
- Decreased tears secretion from lachrymal glands
- Improper closure of eye windshields (eyelids)
- Defective eye movement (either due to muscles or nerves)
- Problems in tears drain
- Using contact lens
Most other reasons for dry eyes are:
- Environmental factors – continuously exposed to very hot & dry winds or facing direct blow from air-conditioners
- Occupational – working more with computer or minute work nature where eyes stare for quite a long time without blinking
- Diseases – Blepharitis (inflammation of eyelids), Bel’s or facial palsy (paralysis of facial muscles), Herpes zoster infection in face, diabetes, auto immune disorders (SLE, rheumatoid arthritis, eye muscular disorders where eye could not coordinate to spread tears all over the eyes or track to drain
- Drug induced – adverse effects of contact lens preservatives, pain-killers, betablockers, diuretics, anti-histamines, birth control pills, sedative drugs, thyroid drugs, epileptic or neuralgic drugs, etc.
- Deficiency of vitamin A (Xerophthalmia) and minerals
- Habits – Smoking
Dryness of eyes will be initially identified with excessive tearing (reflex tears) to manage the situation. Dry eyes always have the feeling of irritation and itchiness. Its other symptoms often vary according to complaints’ nature, intensity and management.
The other symptoms are
- Dull, lusterless, muddy, grey eyes
- Redness and irritation
- Burning and photosensitivity
- Difficulty in night driving, working with computer, wearing contact lens, watching TV, etc.
- Excessive discharge collection or crust formation in corner of eyes
- Eyes need to blink more often
Complications – Dryness may even lead to blindness as dryness can cause disrupt/deterioration of eye tissues. People with dry eyes are also more prone to the toxic side-effects of eye medications, including artificial tears (due to preservative contents or contamination).
Prevention & management – One need to care in the initial stages itself to have lustrous eyes.
- Give rest to eyes periodically by closing it completely for some time
- Blink 2-3 times to revive normal tear flow / spread while feeling dryness or irritation
- Use room humidifier in hot, dry climates
- Take vitamin A rich foods – cod liver oil, carrot, greens, fruits
- Wash eyes 4-5 times a ay or as required with cold water
- Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from dry wind or hot sun
- Contact lens
- Hair dryers
- Working for long time continuously on the computer
- Using cosmetics on the margin of the lid
- Exposure to smoke, wind, dust
- Picking, pinching, rubbing the eyes
General treatment – Nowadays, many of the dry eye complaints are simply tolerated or managed with just blinking or by closing the eyes for a while. But, the feeling of dry eyes may keep on increasing in due course requiring artificial teardrops. It may be require to use it at least 5-6 times a day. An ointment which takes a longer time to dry will be advised during night time. If dry eye is due to infection, use of antibiotics eye drops / oral medicines will be considered. If there is allergic swelling or redness, then they will be provided with anti-histamines group of drugs. Rarely does one require surgical procedures like closing punctum for avoiding tears drain. But, if it is due to ageing or facial palsy, where even frequent use of artificial teardrops seem to be useless, then surgical procedure can be attempted to correct the sagging lower eyelid to pool the tears / track the tears drain. Also, most people will be prescribed anti-oxidants in spite of complaints.
Supplementing or applying artificial teardrops or antibiotic eye drops or having allergic medicines will have effect / betterment for that day only. Also, often using artificial teardrops may transmit infection or toxins due to contaminations. Likewise, allergic medicines or antibiotic eye drops, when used for quite a long time, often make one to take treatment for correcting its side-effects too.
Instead of supplementing aqueous artificial (tears) solutions for dryness of eyes, and using antibiotic drops often to avoid infection, the sufferers can use internal Homeopathy medicines to clear the persisting condition once and for all. Treatment should be aimed accordingly for lachrymal secretion, ocular movements, eyelids closure (for muscles or nerves), infection, etc. With Homeopathy medicines, tears secretion can be enhanced. Its drain can be streamlined and recurrent infection can be controlled by enhancing immunity. Homeopathy gives importance to patients’ feelings also (like feeling air blowing in the eyes, burning feeling in the eyes like hot fire, feeling as if sand in the eyes, etc.) while selecting the apt drug.
Homeopathy can bring spring rains to your eyes to clear dry eyes. It can give comfort for modern-day living with computer and reading books. But anyhow, one needs to avoid irritants or contact lens permanently.
Homeopathic medicines commonly used for dry eyes are Acid nit, Acid flour, Apis mel, Cal carb, Euphrasia, Graphites, Hepar sulph, Nat mur, Petroleum, Physostigma, Pulsastilla, Rhus tox, Ruta, Silicea, Staphysagria, Sulphur, Tellurium, Thuja, etc. These Medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.
Dr. S. Chidambaranathan, BHMS, MD
24 E. New Mahalipatti Road
Tel: +91-452-233-8833 | +91-984-319-1011
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(Disclaimer: The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)