Dry eye - an underestimated suffering

An estimated 15 million Germans are affected by the disease “dry eye”. What sounds rather harmless, however, can be associated with considerable limitations in quality of life and performance. Since seeing is one of our central senses, the accompanying symptoms such as reddened eyes, light sensitivity, itching, burning, stinging or a foreign body sensation in the eye are physically and psychologically stressful.

What does "dry eye” mean?

“Dry eye” is a disease of the so-called tear functional unit, the unique interaction of eyelids, tear glands and eye surface. The tear glands produce the aqueous part of the tears. The mucus (mucin) secreted by the goblet cells in the conjunctiva increases the viscosity (thickness) of the tears. The meibomian glands produce the oily lipid film that floats on the aqueous tear film.

If this sensitive protective mechanism is disturbed, this can lead to inflammation of the eye, the reduction of vision, and even damage to the surface of the eye. In addition to the interaction between the eyelid, eye surface and tear glands, the composition of the tear film is also of essential importance. If it is out of balance, the tear film can no longer perform its functions and inflammation and dry eye symptoms can be the result.

The causes of dry eye are manifold – starting with the aging process, through screen work, to chronic diseases such as diabetes.

56423366 auge aussen

1. Lacrimal glands

between the eyelid and side eyelashes

2. Meibomian glands

in the eyelids with exits on the edges of the eyelids

3. Conjunctiva

with goblet cells

56423391 auge schema

1. Air

2. Layer of fat

3. Aqueous layer

4. Mucus layer

5. Cornea

Causes of dry eye

The aging process - eyes open and through

They say that getting older is not for cowards. The eyes are also affected by the aging process, which can manifest itself as reduced vision and dry eyes. The reason for this is that the tear fluid not only decreases but also evaporates more quickly due to a change in its composition. In addition to the natural aging process of the eye, there are also changes in the hormone balance (menopause) and diseases such as diabetes, which can have a severe impact on eye health.

The intake of drugs such as beta-blockers against high blood pressure or diuretics against water retention also increases with age and, due to side effects, promotes the occurrence of dry eyes.
Not to be forgotten is the increasing number of operations in older age, such as cataract surgery, which strongly interfere with the healthy balance of the eye.

Eye drops such as Comfort Shield® cannot stop the ageing process, but they can compensate for the diminishing tear gland function, provide long lasting relief from symptoms of diseases such as diabetes and alleviate side effects of medication with lasting effect.

Allergies - when the immune system gets into the eye

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system, for example against pollen, house dust mites, animal hairs or moulds, and are often manifested by symptoms around the eye. If the allergens enter the body through the conjunctiva, the eyes often react with excess tears, burning, itching, redness or swelling. Rubbing the eye provides short-term relief, but damages the surface of the eye, thus worsening the symptoms.

Taking antiallergic medication (antihistamines) further irritates the eye by reducing tear gland secretion.

Especially in the case of an allergy, it would be essential to flush allergens out of the eye and soothe the irritated conjunctiva. Comfort Shield® eye drops can provide relief here.

Screen work - please look away

All day working on the computer, in between a look at the smartphone, then off home and quickly streaming a few episodes of your favourite series – more and more people spend more and more time in front of screens.

This is pure stress for the eyes, because they were not originally designed to stare at a brightly lit surface at short distances. And that has consequences: In addition to a growing number of visual disorders, dry eye is also becoming an increasing problem. Because by concentrating on a single spot, the number of blinks that renew and evenly distribute the tear film decreases. Mostly this still happens in offices, which additionally accellerate a drying of the eye surface by heating air or air conditioning systems. Remedial action can be taken by regular breaks without a screen, fresh air, possibly computer glasses and last but not least eye drops that keep the eye in a healthy balance.

Sjögren's syndrome - when the glands stop working

Sjögren’s syndrome (pronounced “Schögrehn’s syndrome”) is a disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks mainly salivary and lacrimal glands. As a result of inflammation, the glands produce less fluid, which leads to dry eyes with conjunctivitis and a dry mouth. The disease can then spread to the whole body and also attack internal organs, muscles and joints. A total of about 0.4% of the German population is affected, with women being ten times more likely to fall ill than men. Sjögren’s syndrome occurs both as an independent disease and as a consequence of other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or Lupus erythematosus.

A cure is not yet possible, but there are ways to get relief from the symptoms. These include sufficient humidity of the ambient air, an optimal fluid intake, avoidance of draughts and the use of moistening eye drops.

Diabetes - the invisible widespread disease

About 7 million people in Germany are affected by diabetes. It is an insidious disease – especially if it remains undetected for a long period of time and causes irreparable damage to vessels, nerves and organs without being noticed. The health of the eye is particularly at risk with diabetes, e.g. through oedema and circulatory disorders which can lead to detachment of the retina and thus to blindness. Increasing damage to the nerves in the cornea of the eye leads to an irreversible disturbance of the ocular surface. Dry eye occurs and with it increased inflammation of the eyelid margin and conjunctiva.

Comfort Shield® eye drops have been clinically proven to stimulate the growth of the nerves in the cornea in patients with severe dry eyes. It therefore seems to be beneficial for all diabetics to use Comfort Shield® eye drops prophylactically, but in any case, at the latest when dry eye symptoms begin.

Contact lenses - Stress for the eye

About 3% of Germans correct their ametropia with contact lenses; in neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands and in the USA, the proportion of contact lens wearers is much higher. Nevertheless, it should not be overlooked that contact lenses are a strong mechanical strain on the eyelid margins and cause a considerable disturbance of the balance of the ocular surface. The natural barrier function against microorganisms, pollen and pollutants from the environment is weakened. The tear film also changes in quantity and composition. The strain on the eye is particularly severe when Ortho-K contact lenses, which are worn in cases of progressive myopia, are used or scleral lenses, which are used in cases of keratoconus, a corneal disease.

Comfort Shield® provides effective protection against mechanical stress on the eyelids and the surface of the eye. In addition, Comfort Shield® minimizes tear evaporation, provides long-lasting moisturization and thus prevents dry eye and its symptoms such as redness, burning, stinging, light sensitivity.

Dry skin and dry eyes with neurodermatitis

Patients suffering from neurodermatitis (atopic dermatitis) are particularly often affected by allergic eye diseases and dry eye.

The natural protective barrier (tear film) of the eye is disturbed in neurodermatitis patients, microorganisms, allergens and harmful substances can penetrate more easily and thus trigger allergies and inflammatory processes.

Comfort Shield® stabilises the tear film and the barrier function of the eye surface. This prevents the development of eye allergies and inflammations. Symptoms are alleviated and inflammation subsides more quickly.

Dry eye after surgery

The cornea of the eye is the most densely innervated tissue in the body. In every eye surgery, such as cataract surgery or refractive surgery, the finest nerves are cut through. In most cases, this results in temporary symptoms of dry eye such as burning, stinging and sensitivity to light.

In consultation with the ophthalmologist, Comfort Shield® can stabilize the ocular surface before an operation and accelerate wound healing after an operation and alleviate symptoms during this phase. If the dry eye remains as a late consequence of a surgery, Comfort Shield® can also be used permanently. In some cases, this leads, after several weeks to complete healing.

Keep your eyes open for the package insert.

Hardly anyone reads all the side effects of a drug on the package insert. Drugs such as psychotropic drugs, sleeping pills, beta-blockers, hormones, antihistamines or eye drops (e.g. for glaucoma) can cause dry eye symptoms.

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