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What is dry eye?
The tear film consists of 3 layers:
- The lipid layer that reduces tear evaporation is produced by the Meibomian glands at the edge of the eyelid.
- The aqueous layer that has a cleaning / lubricating function is produced by the tear glands underneath the upper eyelid
- The mucous layer that allows tears to adhere to the eye surface is produced by goblet cells in the conjunctiva
The composition of the tear film can occur with age or with environmental risk factors, leading to dry eye syndrome.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?
The symptoms can vary:
- Foreign body sensation in the eyes
- Itching and burning in the eyes
- Tearing due to discomfort
- Red eyes
- Red eyelids
- Crusts at the base of the lashes
- Abundant eye secretions

How does dry eye develop?
Several risk factors can contribute to the development of dry eye disease:
- Aging: The tear gland produces less tears with age, especially with the decrease in estrogen levels following menopause in women.
- Blepharitis: this is an inflammation of the eyelid edge where the Meibomian glands are congested. This dysfunction reduces the quality of the tear film and contributes to dry eyes.
- Eye treatments: Dry eyes may worsen after eye surgeries or with the use of certain eye drops.
- Systemic treatments: Some drugs can decrease production of tears (for example, decongestants, antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants).
- Contact Lenses: Prolonged use of contact lenses can also lead to dry eyes.
- Environment: Cold air (less humid), dry wind, heaters, fans and air conditioning can increase evaporation of tears.

What are the available treatments of dry eyes?
Dry eyes are generally a chronic condition and require ongoing treatment:
- First-line treatment involves use of artificial tears regularly, as prescribed by your doctor.
- In case of insufficient production of tears, the tear drainage canal of the eyelid may be temporarily or permanently closed by inserting a tear plug. This treatment retains more tears to lubricate the eye surface.
- In case of dysfunction of the meibomian glands, treatments consisting of hot compresses and cleaning of the edges of the eyelid may be beneficial. Topical and / or systemic antibiotic may be helpful in refractory cases.