Dry Eyes and Watery Eyes
Dr Pravin Krishna Vaddavalli, Associate Ophthalmologist, Cornea & Anterior Segment Service, Contact Lens Service & Refractive Surgery Services
L V Prasad Eye Institute
How prevalent is dry eye? How do we identify severe dry eye? Can dry eyes be vision-threatening condition?
Mild to moderate dry eye is quite common but the patients who really need treatment for this condition are the ones who are symptomatic. However severe dry eyes need careful evaluation and management. Some patients with severe dry may have associated dry mouth and other systemic complaints like joint pains. In some cases, dry eyes can be vision threatening and need careful management. They can result in infections and can result in permanent visual disability.
What are the causes of dry eye?
Dry eye can occur either due to increased evaporation of tears from the eye or due to reduced production of tears.
What are the common symptoms of dry eye?
Common symptoms include a burning sensation, tiredness of the eyes, sensation of a foreign body in the eyes, redness and irritation of the eyes.
Who is at risk and what precautions are required to avoid mild dry eyes?
Mild dry eye is prevalent among the majority of computer users, especially those who work on them for long hours. Called computer vision syndrome, it can be avoided by taking frequent breaks, keeping the monitor below the eye level, avoiding the direct draft of a fan or air conditioner and keeping oneself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Using lubricating eye drops at intervals helps to keep the eyes moist and solves the problem to a large extent.
Can severe dry eyes be managed medically?
Yes, severe dry eyes need a comprehensive approach. From increasing moisture in the eyes by using lubricating eye drops to using punctual plugs to reduce the loss of tears from the eyes, there are several approaches. Some patients may require oral medication and more advanced therapy in the form of cyclosporine eye drops.
What are the common causes of watery eyes?
The commonest cause for watery eyes is a foreign body like dust in the eye. Sudden onset of watering of the eyes is a way of telling us that they need attention. Other common causes include infections like conjunctivitis and any inflammation in the eyes. Watering of the eyes can also result from a block in the outflow pathway for tears and may require surgical intervention.
Are watery eyes sign of something serious?
Gradual onset of watering of the eyes is not a cause for concern but does help to consult with an eye doctor. Sudden onset of watering of the eyes needs attention. Watering of the eyes is a response of the eyes to either flush out an irritant or an indication that the eye is inflamed.
Who is at risk? Do children have watery eyes? Are elderly patients also prone to get watery eyes?
Watery eyes can occur in newborns and infants commonly due to a congenital obstruction of the outflow pathway for tears. It may be associated with discharge and may occur in both eyes at the same time. This condition need consultation with an eye doctor and may require surgical opening of the block in the outflow tear ducts.
Watery eyes can even occur in elderly patients due to loss of fat around the eyelids leading to excessive loose skin around the eyelids. This can result in tears dribbling down the corners of the eyes.