Summary of “Dry Eyes Deserve Attention”

Untreated, severe dry eye disease can result in scarring, ulceration, infection and even perforation of the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye that protects the iris, pupil and anterior chamber and accounts for much of the eye’s optical power.
“We now know that there are many hundreds of substances in tears, including 1,500 proteins, and three main components. We try to pinpoint why a particular person is experiencing dry eye and treat that person’s specific problem.”
Tears are now known to have layers: an outer fatty layer produced by the meibomian, or tarsal, glands at the rim of the eyelids; a middle watery layer from the lacrimal gland in the upper outer corner of each eye; and an inner protein-rich lubricating layer of mucin from the goblet cells of the conjunctiva that covers the whites of the eyes and lines the eyelids.
A disruption of any one of these systems can result in dry eye.
Dry eye disease also turns out to have far more possible causes – and, as a result, various specific treatments – than was once thought.
Possible causes include defects in the parts of the eye that produce each of the layers in tears; an inflammatory disease like allergy or chronic blepharitis; environmental conditions like tobacco smoke or a dry climate; a hormonal imbalance; the use of contact lenses; a vitamin deficiency; an underlying systemic disease like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis; prolonged use of certain medications; and damage to nerves in the eye, as can happen in LASIK eye surgery.
There is much that dry eye sufferers can do for themselves.
If blepharitis is a chronic problem, wet a washcloth with hot water and apply warm compresses to the eyes every morning.

The orginal article.