Dry Eye is a condition in which the eye fails to produce an important component in its tears. The tears normally are composed of: water, mucoprotein and 1% salt along with some other minor components. Most of the time, what happens in dry eyes, is the eyes stop producing some of the mucoprotein. Mucoprotein is the slick substance in the eye tears. That's what keeps one's eyes from "squeaky" closings. Dry Eye is a major cause of Ocular Surface Disease.
SYMPTOMS include irritated, dry and scratchy eyes; redness; blurred vision; overcompensation of tears; or the feeling of a foreign body in the eye. Mucoprotein in the tears is necessary to prevent damaging delicate eye tissues and possible scarring of the cornea. When there is inadequate mucoprotein possible treatments may include artificial tears which contain some type of lubricant to take the place of the missing mucoprotein. Two or three applications per day can be a big help. However, remember, like any lotion, the body and eye do not heal immediately, so expect 3 to 5 days of continued use of the drops before an improvement in the felling of the eyes occurs. Also keep in mind that this treatment regimen is permanent. Dry eye is a chronic condition. In other words, as soon as you stop the drops, 3 days to week later, the feeling of discomfort and scratchiness returns.
Frequently a result of the natural aging process, dry eyes can also be caused by other problems such as medications, environment, certain health problems, or introduction of caustic substances to the eye.