What is dry eye disease?
Over 75 million people in the United States suffer from dry eyes. Dry eye disease is a multifactorial condition where the natural tear film is disrupted, causing various symptoms such as blurred vision, stinging, burning, redness, tearing, and itching. The tear film is unstable, and loses water resulting in a higher salt content (hyperosmolarity). Just like when you open your eyes in the ocean, a high salt concentration in your tears due to dry eyes stings!
Dry eyes occur when the eyes are not adequately lubricated by your natural tears. Tears consist of 3 layers: a lipid layer (oils) for lubrication, a water layer for moisture, and a mucous layer for even spreading on the tears on the surface of the eye. All of these layers are secreted by specialized glands in the eye. If any one of these three components is not in proper balance, then dry eyes can result. Sometimes when the eyes are dry, the body attempts to compensate for the dryness by producing extra tears. However, these tears are only made up water and don’t have the oils and mucous necessary to prevent evaporation of the tears.