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Therapeutic Areas & Products

Dry Eye Disease (DED)

If your eyes are red, sting or you have a foreign body sensation and itching in the eyes - that may be a sign for Dry Eye Disease. The eyes may also be sensitive to light or feel tired, even painful. Sometimes there may be tearing too, a reflexive production of tears when the eye becomes irritated. Also blurring of vision is possible.
 

Symptoms of dry eye are more frequent in females and elderly people. It is estimated that more than 15% of people, who are 55 years or above, have some kind of dry eye disease.

What is...

Dry eye disease (equivalents are: keratoconjunctivitis sicca or just dry eye) occurs, when there is a problem with the tear film that normally keeps the eyes moist and lubricated: either tear fluid is no longer produced in sufficient quantity, the quality of tear fluid has changed or tear fluid is evaporated to an exceptional extent.

 

If tear fluid is produced insufficiently, the underlying reason is normally a dysfunction of the lacrimal gland (a gland which produces tears, lying within the orbit on the outer portion of the upper eye). Increased evaporation of tear fluid may have various causes, such as diseases of the meibomian glands (located at the rim of the eyelids), disorders of lid aperture, low blink rate, etc. 
 

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​Products for treating dry eye:

Tear Film

The tear film keeps the eye moist, cleans the eye surface and provides protection from injury and infection. It is evenly distributed through the blinking of the eyelid, which happens about every 5 to 10 seconds. The tear film has three distinct layers, which all have their own purpose:

  • lipid (oily) layer
  • aqueous (watery) layer that makes up 90% of the tear film volume
  • mucous layer that coats the corneal surface.

Lipid Layer

The lipid (oily) layer, produced by the meibomian glands, forms the outermost surface of the tear film. Its main function is the protection of the aqueous layer from evaporation. It also prevents the tears from spilling out of the eye and stabilises the tear film.

 

Aqueous Layer

The aqueous (watery) layer makes up most of what we ordinarily think of as tears. This layer is produced by the lacrimal glands. It supplies the corneal epithelium with nutrients and atmospheric oxygen and has antibacterial effects. It also cleanses the ocular surface, washing away debris and bacteria.

 

Mucous Layer

This inner layer of the tear film consists of mucus produced by the conjunctiva. It considerably decreases the surface tension. Moreover, it permits the easy and even spread of the aqueous layer on the cornea, which is important for a sharp image on the eye.

Risk factors

Dry eye disease has various causes, such as:

  • Age-related changes in production and composition of tear fluid
  • certain systemic diseases, such as Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, vitamin A deficiency, thyroiditis or diabetes
  • certain medicines to treat high blood pressure, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic drugs, birth-control pills, diuretics and allergy medicines
  • environmental conditions, such as dry indoor air, air-conditioning, dust, electric work environment, wind, frost, hot sun
  • working at a computer monitor, when dry eye is often caused by reduced blinking
  • wearing contact lenses
  • corneal refractive surgery (PRK, LASIK)

Diagnosis

Please go see an ophthalmologist for further examination. The doctor may color the surface of your eyes with a dye to see, whether he can detect a typical coloring on the cornea. Or he may use the Schirmer test (a paper slip is put on the inside of the lower eyelids, which is wetted with tear fluid) to measure the tear production of the eye. If the result clearly deviates from the reference, the tear production is disturbed.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to alleviate the symptoms of dry eye disease. Dry eyes are treated usually with tear substitutes, which lubricate the surface of the eye. They often have to be applied several times per day. Other treatments beside the tear substitutes may include ciclosporin, puntal plugs etc. If the use is chronic or frequent, you wear contact lenses or are sensitive to the preservative used in most eye drops, you should resort to preservative-free products.