Eyes require moisture to maintain proper vision and comfort.Tears form an essential constituent in lubricating eyes and maintaining the proper moisture content.Tears are formed by the combination of oils for proper lubrication, water for moisture, special proteins and antibodies for resisting infection and mucus for uniform distribution. These constituents are oozed by particular glands situated around the eyes. But when this particular system of tears gets disturbed, it can be responsible for causing dry eyes. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or dry eyes is a condition that is characterised by the dryness of the white of the cornea and the eyes.
Causes of night-time dry eyes
Dryness of eyes can be caused by various factors:
- Poor tear production
- Poor tear quality
- Environmental elements
- Not proper blinking of eyes
- Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder)
- Birth control pills
- Problems related to structure of eyes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Collagen vascular disease
Symptoms of night-time dry eyes
Some of the common symptoms associated with dryness of eyes are:
1. Fatigue and sensitivity
After watching television, reading or working on computers, your eyes can feel a sense of tiredness. Eyes can also be sensitive towards light.
2. Irritation and discharge
As per the Mayo clinic, the major symptoms for dry eyes during night is a burning, scratchy or stinging feeling. The symptoms of dry eyes can get worsened by various factors like smoke, dust, dry climate, heat, air conditioner or fan. You can use a humidifier in order to ease irritation.This leads to the deposition mucus around or in your eyes and tearing.
3. Blurred vision
Many people experience blurred vision, especially during evening hours or continuously focussing on something for larger periods of time. According to Merck manual, dryness of eyes in severe cases can result in ulcers, cornea, scars of blood vessels that supply to cornea and in the worst cases, the loss of entire vision.
Treatment for night-time dry eyes
- If the eye dryness is in its acute stage, you can treat it by lubricating drops. However, do not use drops that treat red eye, as it will simply aggravate dryness. During 2002, Food and Drug Administration granted the prescription of Restasis, an eye drop that is used for treating chronic eye disorders. Presently it is the only drug available that helps in improving tear production of eyes, if used for prolonged period. Other medicines including topical steroids can also be helpful in few cases.
- If required, your physician can suggest powerful drops like Cyclosporine, a medicine accepted by the FDA (food and drug administration) for dry eye conditions. Use of artificial teardrops is the main treatment available as over the counter. In case you have been experiencing dry eyes for longer periods of time, you should use these drops even when your eyes are fine in order to keep them lubricated. If the symptoms of dry eye worsens, during night you can apply a thicker lubricant like an ointment.
- If your disease is more severe and starts from poor control of eyelid, your doctor may refer you to an ophthalmologist for surgical procedure. During surgery of the eye, ducts that help in draining the tears into nasal passage can be closed permanently in order to permit more tears around eyes. This process is done on out patient basis with local anesthesia. This surgery is very safe and does not have any impact on normal functioning of eyes.
- To protect natural tears, your consultant may advise you totally closing of tear ducts with little silicone plugs that can be separated later. Plugs will grab the tears around eyes as long as they are in their position. They can also be removed. In rare cases plugs come out suddenly or drift in the tear canal. Most of the patients find the plugs very comfortable as they minimize the need for artificial tears. Another permanent option is thermal cautery ,that is shrinking the tissues of drainage area with a hot wire.
- Boosting intake of dietary supplements or Omega-3 fatty acids might lower the risk for dry eye diseases.