It is an interesting phenomenon....you are watching the Presidential Debate, and you begin to have difficulty seeing. Or tears begin to roll out of your eyes and down your face.This blurred vision might seem to be from watching politicians doing what they do best, or it may be from Dry Eye Syndrome.
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic problem, which can be caused by several factors and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Catching these symptoms early can help prevent problems like infection, and other permanent problems with the eyes such as scars on the cornea.
What makes up the 'tear film' on the eye?
Our tears aren't just water. The tear film is a moisture layer on the front of the eye, and it is made up of 3 layers. There is an oil layer, a water layer and a mucous layer. Each of these layers must be produced in the correct amounts at the correct time to maintain moisture levels that are healthy.
What is DES?
Dry eye syndrome is a problem where the front of the eye becomes dry. This can be caused by lack of tear production, decrease in mucous production, or decrease in production of the oil layer of the tears. If any of the cells that make these substances aren't working properly, the perfect balance of moisture cannot be maintained. For instance, if the oil layer isn't stable, the tear layer evaporates too quickly. Loss of the mucuous layer will cause the moisture layer to 'break up' and drain off of the front of the eye too quickly.
Tears during the presidential debate?
Blurred vision is actually a very common symptom in patients with dry eyes. As we look at TV, computers, iPads iPhones and Kindles, we tend to stare at them. When we stare, we don't blink enough. And if we don't blink, the tear film becomes irregular, and breaks up more. This leads to blurred vision, gritty sensations, and even watery eyes can occur! Sometimes blinking helps, but often artificial tears or even prescription drops may help. There are many brands of artificial tears available over the counter that can be tried including generic forms of drops. If these don't work, patients in Michigan with dry eye syndrome should see your eye doctor for further treatment.
So next time you are watching the debates, and your vision blurs, or you begin to cry, don't blame Hilary or Donald...you may need help with your dry eye syndrome!