Dry Eyes Due To Anxiety: Causes and Treatment
The dry eye is the main reason for ophthalmological consultation. It is a condition that implies that the eyes do not maintain adequate tear film or necessary for the proper functioning of the eye. The function of this film is to keep the eye hydrated which contributes to a good vision and to that the strange particles that enter the eye can be eliminated.
According to certain studies, the syndrome of the dry eye or SOS, as it is called to this disease, affects 15 to 30% of the population. In general, it affects more women than men, it is more frequent in elderly people and people of Asian origin. Ocular dryness occurs for different reasons. In this article we tell you more details about Dry Eyes due to anxiety: causes and treatment.
Dry eye syndrome or SOS
The eyes have an aqueous coating that allows them to function properly. This tear film, normally, is formed by three layers:
- The deepest is thin and consists of mucin.
- The intermediate is the thickest and consists mainly of water and salt.
- The surface layer, also thin, is composed of lipids, whose function is to avoid the evaporation of the intermediate layer.
Alterations in any of these layers can affect vision. When the water and salt layer is reduced, SOS is produced. This may result from excessive evaporation due to deficiencies in the surface layer or, perhaps, from an insufficient tear secretion. The eyes are very sensitive to both external and internal factors of the individual. Usually, this condition is easily treated and usually does not go over.
However, the symptoms of dry eye are varied and can progress from mild to severe if not treated. The main symptoms of SOS are:
- Itching, burning and / or redness in the eye.
- Sensation of sand in the eye.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Blurred vision and even headache.
- Excessive tearing, as a mechanism to compensate for the dryness of the eye.
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Dry eyes: causes
Ocular dryness is associated with different factors ranging from weakness of the immune system, side effects of some medication, and even sleep with eyes a little open, as some specialists claim. It is considered a very common condition in people over 40, mostly women. This is due to hormonal changes, which produce changes in the quality and quantity of the tear film.
It may also be related to a malfunction of the Meibornio glands. It is a specialized sebaceous glands that are found in the eyelids (around 50 in the upper part and more or less 25 in the lower part), which are responsible for producing the Meibum, oily substance, which prevents ocular dryness.
The SOS or dry eyes syndrome can be associated with different causes, among which are:
- Weak immune system
- Diseases such as diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and allergies.
- Side effects of certain medications, such as: antihistamines, antidepressants or oral contraceptives.
- Dry or windy environments, long exposure to the sun, elements that irritate the eyes such as tobacco smoke, air conditioning, heating.
- Deficiencies in the diet.
- Use of contact lenses.
- Any eye surgery that produces that side effect.
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Dry eyes: depression, anxiety and nerves
Dry eye syndrome considered a multifactorial disease of the tear film and the ocular surface. This produces, as mentioned above, irritation and chronic inflammation and even blurred vision, which undoubtedly affects the quality of life of the patient and can lead to mental health alterations in severe cases. This condition can also be associated with diseases that produce chronic pain and are prone to depressive and anxiety states.
The relationship between dry eye syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis and lupus has been known for some time. On the other hand, some specialists have evaluated, more recently, the relationship between dry eyes and anxiety and depression. Some studies show that in depressed patients there is an increase in the symptoms of SOS and in turn it is considered that the SOS, by affecting the quality of life of patients, can have psychological effects.
On the other hand, most medications used to treat anxiety and depression affect the tear film, which generates a kind of vicious circle. In patients suffering from depression and anxiety, ocular dryness is three times more frequent than in healthy people.
This relationship is statistically significant, although it comes from a study that did not take into account the use of antidepressants that in turn affect the tear film. But it certainly establishes a relationship between dry eye and anxiety and depression that had already been pointed out by other investigations. Most people with dry eyes describe feeling anxious and / or depressed because of this disease, because they have a hard time dealing with the chronic pain they cause.
Both in the case that the patient is being treated for mental illness and in the one treated for ocular dryness, specialists must take into account the relationship between both conditions when offering treatment options. What can certainly help with patient recovery. In any case, for patients suffering from SOS, psychological or psychiatric support is recommended, which seeks to address the disease taking into account its multifactorial nature.
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Dry eyes: Treatment
To treat dry eyes, doctors usually indicate the use of artificial tears or lubricating gels. This provides great relief to people when they use them 2 to 4 times a day. In many cases, changes in habits also help, such as:
- Use of sunglasses.
- Adjust the diet.
- Avoid dry environments.
- Avoid air conditioning.
- Take care of the hygiene of the eyelids.
As for the treatments, when the disease is more severe, the doctor may prescribe medications such as anti-inflammatories. In addition, other treatments include the use of micro plugs that are placed in the lacrimal ducts or occlusion of the lacrimal puncta through a surgical procedure in the most severe cases. One of the most novel treatments is the use, as eye drops, of an autologous serum, which is produced from the patient’s blood. It is a therapy of regenerative medicine that uses the proteins present in the blood to promote the regeneration of the cornea surface and the inflammation of the eyes.
This latest generation treatment is currently used for the most severe cases. Undoubtedly, in all cases, the specialist must know the patient’s medical history, because in some individuals this condition occurs as a side effect of certain medications or is associated with other diseases. In this way it will be easier to find the right treatment.
Home remedies for dry eye
When suffering from ocular dryness it is important to assimilate certain routines to improve the quality of life. Among these are:
- Blink frequently and pause by closing your eyes if you use electronic devices that require viewing, such as computers or screens.
- Moisturize the eyes with bags of black tea passed through boiling water or cotton soaked with chamomile infusion, which once cool are placed on the eyelids.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to the use of vitamin supplements. It also helps to consume foods rich in Omega 3 such as flaxseed oil and fish.
- Refresh the eyes placing cucumber wheels on the eyelids. This vegetable has anti-inflammatory and refreshing properties.
Generally, ocular dryness does not produce serious consequences but it is necessary to consult the doctor if you suffer from any of the symptoms recurrently. If the condition of the dry eye is prolonged the risk of infection grows and this can affect the cornea and long-term vision. Because of the type of symptoms it usually takes a long time before people decide to consult the doctor and also once the treatment is started, improvements may take some time.
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