Do fish have dry eyes

Dry eyes: what it's all about and what really helps

What to do if the eyes itch, burn and itch How uncomfortable and annoying dry eyes really are in everyday life can only be assessed by those affected. There are plenty of them, however: around one in five who visits an ophthalmologist complains of dry eyes.[1] What is certain is that the patient's level of suffering is extremely high. This also puts the treating physicians under pressure, as quicker treatment success is required.

However, short-term remedial measures are made more difficult by the fact that the causes of the dry eye phenomenon can be varied. While changing certain behaviors can provide relief for many people, dry eyes can also be a sign of serious illness in others. Therefore, for most of those affected, an experimentation phase begins first in order to find the cause and the optimal therapy. So if you are experiencing the symptoms for the first time, you should definitely have them clarified by your ophthalmologist. Because what is often dismissed as everyday ailments can turn into chronic corneal or conjunctivitis in the long term.

Understanding the tear system: the reasons for dry eyes

The surface of the eye consists of the uppermost cell layer of the conjunctiva and cornea. In the normal state, this is covered by a very thin film of tears. Together with the surface cells and the eyelids, the tear film forms the defense system of our eyes.

The tear film itself also consists of several components:

  • There is the watery layer from the lacrimal gland in which salts are dissolved. This layer supplies the surface of the eye with the necessary moisture.
  • The mucous layer, which is produced in the conjunctiva, lies between the cornea and the watery layer. It mediates the adhesion between the watery layer and the actually water-repellent surface of the eye.

After all, that's on the outside Layer of fat, an oily secretion that slows down the evaporation of tear fluid.

We blink every five to ten seconds - in these brief moments the tear fluid is distributed on the surface of our eyes. The tears are then transported away through tear dots, tiny openings on the upper and lower eyelids that lead into the nose. The graphic shows the tear system and the layered structure of the tear film.

The tear film has three main tasks: On the one hand, it protects your eye from everything that penetrates from the outside. Dust, germs, pollen and the draft are caught by the liquid and transported away by the blink of an eye. The protective layer also contributes to optimal visual acuity. Because it smooths the surface of the eye so that the environment can be depicted on the retina without distortion. The tear film also ensures that the cornea remains in top shape. As a lubricant, the tears prevent our eyelids from rubbing against the cornea and conjunctiva. So you can imagine how it happens that people who complain of dry eyes compare their discomfort to the feeling of sandpaper on the eyes.

What causes dry eyes?

Two different causes can be responsible for this feeling: Either the tear production is too low or the loss of the tear fluid is too high. The insufficient tear production is often related to an age-related regression of the tear gland tissue. Many general diseases can affect the lacrimal gland and the use of medication such as atropine, beta blockers or diuretics can also play a role. If your eye loses too much tear fluid, the reasons are to be found in the mucus and fat components. The insufficient adhesion of the tear film can be caused by a lack of vitamin A or damage to the surface (e.g. chemical burns, burns and scars). If the evaporation of the liquid is too high, it is often an inflammation of the eyelid margins, which restricts the production of the fat component.

But the reasons for dry eyes are not always so far removed from our sphere of influence: Dry eyes can also arise from very mundane situations in everyday life. If you suffer from dry eyes and are not taking any specific medication or are known to have serious illnesses, then there is a good chance that you can get rid of the symptoms yourself. This is the case, for example, in the case of external influences such as drafts, dry air, air conditioning air, long stare at screens or cigarette smoke - all factors that can be avoided or at least limited.

Tip: Have you noticed that you have the feeling of dry eyes again and again, especially at certain times of the year? Have you ever thought about an allergy test? For example, pollen is often a trigger for dry eyes.

From diagnosis to therapy

The signals that our body sends out cannot always be clearly assigned or interpreted. Most of those affected describe several complaints to their ophthalmologist. Use the following list for yourself as a quick test to gain initial clues:

  • Foreign body sensation, burning, scratching
  • Rubbing, feeling of grain of sand
  • Feeling of pressure in the eyes
  • Pain
  • Tired eyes
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Secretion of mucus, sticky eyelids (especially after sleeping)
  • Conjunctival redness
  • Feeling of tearing
  • Need to wipe your eyes all the time
  • Visual disturbances
  • Glare, fear of light

The ophthalmologist's top priority is to rule out serious conditions as a cause of dry eyes. All of the symptoms that occur with dry eyes can be caused by other eye diseases. After a general eye examination with the control of the optic nerve and a look at the retina, the doctor can often make a suspected diagnosis, which can then be confirmed by the so-called smear test. To do this, a strip of filter paper is hung in the lower eyelid, with which the volume of tears is measured. Depending on the clinical picture and the previous history, further examinations may be necessary in order to reliably rule out other causes. A look at the complicated tear system shows why the treatment of dry eye is not as simple as one might think. The direct route from diagnosis to therapy is therefore not always successful. And if the treatment fails for too long, frustration between you and the ophthalmologist is inevitable.

Saying war on dry eyes: which medication works best

The diagnosis of "dry eye" usually poses a real challenge for those affected and ophthalmologists. Because so far no treatment methods are known that address the causes directly. The therapy therefore mainly focuses on alleviating the symptoms. The fact that the statutory health insurances usually do not bear the treatment costs does not improve the situation.

If there is a problem behind your dry eyes with the Meibomian glands, which produce the fatty layer of the tear fluid, it is Treatment of inflammation of the edge of the eyelid promising. If the ophthalmologist does not find anything there, they can help Tear substitutes often further. They ensure that the eye is supplied with sufficient fluid again. These artificial tears are similar in composition to the body's own tears, but often contain preservatives to protect the dropper bottles from contamination. Preservative-free eye drops, on the other hand, are only available in single-dose containers.

But why and for whom does it even matter? You should give preference to artificial tears without preservatives if you are allergic, use the drops particularly frequently or wear soft contact lenses. The preservatives can accumulate on the lens and damage your cornea in the long term.

Tip: Over time, many patients switch from watery to thicker artificial tears. This means that you have to drip less often, but you also have to accept that this can temporarily impair your view. You can avoid this by cleverly combining the preparations. Try using drops during the day and a gel or ointment at night.

How to: Use Tear Substitutes Correctly

Treating your symptoms with tear substitutes is unfortunately only effective as long as it lasts. So that the administration of your eye drops costs you as little time and nerves as possible, you should become a professional. Preparation comes first: wash your hands and warm the dropper bottle in your hand.

Now the drops have to get into the eye. So that they develop their optimal effect there, you can use the following steps for the first time. You will see that the routine will come about by itself.

This is how the drops get into the eye

  1. Open both eyes wide.
  2. Pull the lower eyelid down with your index finger.
  3. Look upwards.
  4. Hold the drip tip vertically and drain it over the conjunctival sac.
  5. When the drop has spread sufficiently, let go of the lid.
  6. Close both eyes slowly.
  7. Keep your eyes closed for a minute or two.

In the case of gels or ointments, it is advisable to place a strand directly into the open conjunctival sac as indicated, paying attention to the direction from the inner to the outer corner. Here, too, the preparation is best distributed if you keep your eyes closed for a moment.

Help yourself - these home remedies work against dry eyes

Artificial tears only temporarily relieve your symptoms and can be a nuisance to use. It would be much better to help the natural flow of tears get going again. You can create the perfect starting point by drinking enough and protecting your eyes from strong drafts and extreme sunlight. You can increase the humidity in rooms by setting up bowls with water or by hanging damp cloths over the heater in winter.

If you are one of those people who find it difficult to give up alcohol and cigarettes, relieving dry eyes is another incentive for you: As is so often the case, your eating habits also have a lever. For example, it is known that you stimulate tear secretion by consuming more omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods like fish, canola and linseed oil) and fewer omega-6 fatty acids (found in foods like pork and sunflower oil). Fish oil capsules, for example, can revitalize tear production.

In the case of inflammation of the edge of the eyelid, you can even help heal with warm, moist compresses. Let your ophthalmologist show you the eyelid margin massage technique that supports the glands in their work. Eye drops based on eyebright and pansy pads are also part of the promising plant therapy. If that is not enough or you would like to try everything: Room-warmed quark or black tea bags on the eyes are said to have worked wonders. If none of this helps, don't hesitate to visit the ophthalmologist again.