Dry Eyes

Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome is a condition when the eyes don't get enough lubrication from tears. This condition can cause discomfort in the eyes, and can even damage the surface of the eyeball.

Tears consist of water, salt, oil, mucus, and protein. Its function is to lubricate and keep the surface of the eye smooth. Tears also play a role in protecting the eye from foreign objects, disturbing elements, or germs that cause infection.


Normally, tears will flow over the surface of the eye when the eye blinks. However, in dry eyes, the production or composition of tears is disrupted. As a result, the surface of the eye is not properly lubricated. This condition causes dry eye syndrome or keratoconjunctivitis sicca .

Although it can happen to anyone, this condition is more common in women. In addition, the risk of dry eyes also increases in elderly people.

Causes of Dry Eyes

As previously mentioned, dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes don't get adequate lubrication from tears.

There are several conditions that can cause dry eyes, namely:

Decreased tear production

Dry eyes can be caused by decreased tear production by the eye glands. This condition can occur due to several conditions, namely:

  • old age
  • Certain diseases or conditions, such as Sjögren's syndrome , diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis , lupus, scleroderma , thyroid hormone disorders, and vitamin A deficiency
  • Consumption of drugs, such as antihistamines , decongestants, antidepressants, hypertension medications, acne medications, Parkinson's disease medications, or hormone replacement therapy drugs
  • Tear gland damage due to radiation therapy or laser eye surgery

Increased tear evaporation

Tears consist of various compositions. If one component of the tear is insufficient or not produced at all, especially oil, the tears will evaporate more quickly. This causes the eyes to dry quickly.

Generally, increased tear evaporation is caused by the following conditions:

  • Posterior blepharitis
  • Conditions that make patients rarely blink, for example when reading and working too long in front of a computer screen, or because they suffer from Parkinson's disease
  • Disorders of the eyelids, namely eyelids that turn outward (ectropion) or turn inward (entropion)
  • Eye allergy
  • Dry or windy weather
  • Air pollution
  • Vitamin A deficiency

Dry eye risk factors

Dry eyes are more at risk for someone who has the following factors:

  • Over 50 years old
  • Female gender
  • Experiencing hormonal changes, for example due to pregnancy, taking birth control pills, or menopause
  • Suffer from a disease that weakens the immune system, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Have a vitamin A deficiency
  • Using contact lenses
  • Have had refractive surgery to correct vision

Dry Eye Symptoms

Dry eye symptoms can vary, from mild to severe. These symptoms can affect one or both eyes.

Some of the common symptoms experienced by sufferers of dry eyes are:

  • Red eye
  • The eyes feel hot
  • Eyes feel like sand or something is stuck
  • Watery eyes due to eye irritation
  • Sensitive to sunlight
  • Blurred vision and improves after blinking
  • Mucus in or around the eyes, especially when you wake up
  • Eyes feel tired quickly

Dry eye symptoms can worsen under certain conditions, for example when looking at a computer screen for hours on end, being in a dry environment for too long, or reading a book for a long time.

When to see a doctor

Check with your doctor if you experience persistent dry eye symptoms and do not improve, especially if dry eye symptoms are also accompanied by red, irritated, itchy, painful or tired eyes.

You also need to see a doctor immediately if you experience changes in the shape of your eyelids or vision problems.

Dry Eye Diagnosis

To diagnose dry eyes, the doctor will conduct a question and answer about the symptoms experienced and the patient's medical history. Next, the doctor will do a physical examination, especially the eyes and face.

To establish a diagnosis, doctors can also carry out further examinations, such as:

  • Schirmer's
    test The Schirmer's test is performed to measure tear production. The trick is to stick a special piece of paper that can absorb the liquid on the lower eyelid for 5 minutes.
    The patient's eyes are classified as dry eyes if within 5 minutes the size of the wet paper is less than 10 millimeters.
  • Epithelial dye
    test Epithelial dye test aims to see damage to the patient's cornea. This test is done by sticking a piece of paper containing a special dye on the surface of the eye. These dyes can be fluorescein, rose bengal, and lissamine green .
  • Tear break up time
    This test aims to see the condition of the surface of the eye by dripping a drug containing fluorescein . Through this test, the doctor will see patterns of discoloration in the eyes to find out how quickly the eyes dry.
  • Tear osmolarity
    test This test is performed to measure the composition of water and other substances contained in the patient's tears. Dry eyes can be detected if the composition of the patient's tears is unstable or unbalanced.

In addition to the several tests above, the doctor can also do a blood test to find out if dry eyes are caused by certain diseases.

Dry Eye Treatment

Dry eye treatment aims to help relieve symptoms and address the cause. If dry eyes are caused by certain diseases, the treatment method is to treat those causes first.

The following are several treatment methods that can be used to treat dry eyes:


To deal with dry eyes, doctors can provide drugs, such as:

  • Eye lubricant (artificial tears), to moisturize the eyes and replace the function of tears, if dry eyes are still relatively mild and occur occasionally
  • Antibiotic eye drops, to relieve infection
  • Eye drops containing cyclosporine or corticosteroids , to reduce inflammation of the cornea of ​​the eye
  • Autologous serum eye drops , which are eye drops made from one's own blood, to replace tears in an already severe condition

Treatment from a doctor

Apart from giving medicines, doctors can also take the following actions:

  • Vectored thermal pulsation
    This therapy aims to unblock the oil glands that cause dry eyes. In this therapy, a tool shaped like a bowl will be placed in the eye. The tool will provide a gentle massage and warm waves on the inner eyelids.
  • Intense-pulsed light therapy
    This therapy uses light vibrations to unclog the eye's oil glands, loosen tears, and reduce inflammation.
  • Special contact lenses. The
    doctor will recommend that the patient wear special contact lenses, to protect the surface of the eye and keep the eye moist.


Surgery can be done for cases of dry eyes that are severe and cannot be treated with other therapies. This procedure is done by permanently blocking the tear ducts so that the surface of the eye will always be moist.

Self-care at home

In addition to medical treatment, patients can make independent efforts at home to relieve symptoms and speed up the healing process, including:

  • Protect your eyes from environments that cause dry eyes, such as windy, dry, smoky or dusty weather
  • Use goggles to protect the eyes
  • Use a humidifier or air filter in the room
  • Avoid wearing makeup on the eyes
  • Do not smoke
  • Set working time in front of a computer screen
  • Clean your eyes regularly using a clean cloth dampened in warm water
  • Reducing the use of contact lenses
  • Eat lots of food sources of omega-3 fatty acids that can improve dry eye conditions, such as mackerel, tuna, sardines, or salmon

Generally, dry eye syndrome is a condition that lasts a long time and often relapses. However, if handled quickly and appropriately, this condition can be overcome.

Dry Eye Complications

Generally, dry eye sufferers only experience mild irritation without long-term effects. However, if left untreated, dry eyes can cause complications in the form of:

  • Eye infection
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Damage to the cornea
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Impaired vision

In addition, dry eye syndrome also causes sufferers to have difficulty performing daily activities, such as reading or driving a vehicle.

Dry Eye Prevention

Dry eyes can be prevented by doing the following:

  • Keep your eyes from being directly exposed to wind from air conditioners, fans or hair dryers
  • Blinks regularly when reading or looking at a computer screen for long periods of time
  • Resting your eyes or closing your eyes for a while when working on a computer or staring at a cell phone
  • Use a humidifier at home or at work
  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors, so as not to be exposed to too much sun and dry air
  • Avoiding environments that are drier than usual
  • Drink enough water
  • Enough sleep and regular
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