Eye dry syndrome: what are we talking about?

A worldwide problem

According to the World Health Organization, dry eye syndrome is one of the most ignored and underestimated disorders of today's society. Although it may seem to be a problem affecting a minority of the population, it is actually suffered by one in four people over 50 years old. According to some statistical data, in Italy it is estimated that more than 50% of the population suffer from dry eye syndrome. The National Eye Institute in Maryland states that in the United States there are 5 million people affected and among them more than 3 million are women and about one and a half million are men.

Causes of Symptomatology

The dry eye syndrome (DES) is manifested through a sensation of redness and burning of the eyes and foreign-body sensation inside the eye itself, a strange tear, annoyance in seeing the light (photophobia), difficulty in opening the eyes especially on awakening as well as glaring visuals in the most severe cases, and the use of medicines such as antiarrhythmic, antihistamines, antidepressants, antihypertensives, anti-ulcer, diuretics and hormones can inhibit the production of tears that are fundamental because they are a natural barrier to the eye, protecting it from external agents. It is such a complex pathology that it is not possible to identify standard parameters; among the main causes we find the prolonged use of smartphones, tablets and computers, air pollution that makes the air rich in dust, particles and exhaust gases harmful to the health of our eyes, smoke and, not to be underestimated, menopause, a phase that for women means a great hormonal imbalance. A further cause most commonly unknown to many is Sjögren's syndrome named after the Swedish doctor who at the beginning of the twentieth century was the first to relate chronic eye dryness to a group of women: it is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that can afflict many parts of the body, although it especially affects the tear and salivary glands. It can be defined as a typically female illness because women of all ages and of any ethnicity are the main subjects to be affected. In most cases it begins to manifest itself after turning 40 and rarely affects children.

The expert's opinion

But what is exactly eye dryness? To answer this question, we addressed Dr. Rossella Miceli of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Sant'Eugenio Hospital in Rome: "The dry eye is an alteration of the eye tear that can be determined by a reduction of tear production by the tear gland, or by an alteration of the evaporation that causes an increase in the vaporization of the tear film. For people who have basic changes in the hormonal cycle of lacrimation, such as women during their period or during pregnancy or even older women with estrogen reduction, the contact lens increases this symptomatology and all those discomforts linked to the dry eye. In order to avoid an increase of dry eye symptoms, contact lens wearers can adopt some precautions. The hydrophilic contact lenses are certainly the most comfortable and are the ones that let a bigger part of the tear film remain between the lens and the cornea, with a remarkable reduction in eye dryness. In addition, they can use tear drops containing hyaluronic acid at various concentrations. In addition the use of dietary supplements based on vitamin complexes such as vitamin E, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, which have a nutritional effect on the cornea, is increasing, reducing its use-related alteration, even prolonged, of the contact lens. Another crucial point is the duration of the lens itself: daily contact lenses have a lot of water content and more importantly they do not lose it over the course of the day". The Elle6 lens has been designed to overcome the high percentage of menopausal women over 90% due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, breastfeeding, menstruation and menopause. This daily lens has been especially designed for those who need an increased eye lubrication, which is why the lens is immersed in a saline solution with the addition of wetting and specific vitamins such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and vitamin E. Their simultaneous action give immediate eye care that will benefit them greatly. In particular, vitamin B6 helps absorb magnesium, a great ally of adequate tear production, vitamin B12 is widely used in dietary supplements recommended for eye care and in many eye drops formulations, vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant that protects lipids from cellular membranes. The wetting agents present in the solution in which the Elle6 lens is immersed are Tween80, PEG and hyaluronic acid which, among the many beneficial properties it has, can increase water retention and improve eye lubrication.

Remedies and therapies

At the moment there is no specific medicine that can cure dry eye syndrome that stimulates the major glands to secrete. There are, however, alternative and corrective therapies involving the use of collars, artificial tears and gels containing detergents, disinfectants and lubricants very similar to substances present in natural tears. Another therapy involves the use of contact lenses to protect the eye surface. The use of contact lenses is, however, unhelpful because, in case of aqueous tear deficiency (ATD), they would not provide adequate comfort to the wearer while they would be of great benefit if a filamentous keratitis was present, as it would greatly reduce the discomfort, allowing the lubricants to be really effective. Keratitis is a cornea inflammation and, in case of extreme ocular dryness, superficial cells may deteriorate and form filaments on the corneal surface, causing the so-called filamentous keratitis. Hygiene is a fundamental component when it comes to dry eye; for this reason, it is highly recommended to use disposable daily lenses that allow you to have a fresh and sterile lens every day, reducing the risk of substance storage on the surface of the lens, already compromised by reduced tear flow.

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