Dr. Jim Martin 02/18/2014

eye_drops.jpgYour body has many ways of protecting itself. To protect the surface of the eye, the body produces tears to keep the eyes moist and to prevent mild irritants from doing damage.

When the eye is producing healthy tears, the liquid coats the surface of the eye to provide protection. People with dry eye syndrome do not have healthy tear production, and this leaves their eyes vulnerable. That is what leads to redness, irritation, and blurry vision.

How many tear layers are there in my eye?

If you take a look at the tear film across your eye, you will find three distinct layers, each made of a distinctly different material and each performing a different function.

Let's look at each layer and its purpose:

The mucous layer sits on the surface of the cornea. Made from mucins, it comes from conjunctival goblet cells. It provides a slick coat over the eye that allows the upper layers to flow over the eye seamlessly.
The aqueous layer is the middle layer. It is a mixture of water and other substances that keeps the surface of the eye moist and helps the outermost tear layer film spread evenly. It also helps prevent infectious agents from entering the eye. This is the watery tear you might dab from the eyes when crying.

The lipid layer is the outermost layer. It is a mixture of oils (lipids) that come from the Meibomian glands. This layer provides a hydrophobic barrier that prevents the aqueous layer from rolling out of the eye, and down the cheek. It also prevents the aqueous layer from drying out too soon provides a slick layer over which the eyelid slides.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes often happen because of problems in the layers in the tear film. A couple of the more common problems are deficiencies in tear and lipid production.

Deficient tear production happens when the lacrimal gland is not producing enough tears or the ductwork from the gland to the eye is blocked.

Excessive tear evaporation happens when the lipid layer is too thin. It allows the aqueous layer to dry out too quickly, leaving the eye dry.

Where Can I Find Relief For Dry Eyes?
People who suspect they are dealing with dry eyes should make an appointment with an eye doctor. Dry eyes are not just irritating and painful, but they can negatively affect your lifestyle and prevent you from taking part in activities you enjoy. If you think you have dry eye syndrome, contact Broome Optical. Our optometrists will perform a Dry Eye Evaluation to determine the best treatment option for you. In addition to eye drops like Restasis, we offer a new cutting-edge treatment called LipiFlow.

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