Dryness of eyes

Caused by reduced lachrymal fluid production or -secretion. The dryness may cause inflammation. This is seen in Sjogren's syndrome, in different diseases of the connective tissues, malfunction of the blinking reflex, and in vitamin A deficiency.

The cause of a reduced production of lachrymal fluid can be a chronic inflammation, poorly functioning eyelids or tear glands, or medicinal side effects.

If the condition has lasted for more than three months and if there is also dryness of the mouth, it might be a case of Sjogren's syndrome which is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own tear- and salivary glands, and in women also the glands that lubricate the vagina - resulting in dryness.

Sjogren's syndrome can also be seen together with other autoimmune diseases which attack the body's own tissues, such as articular rheumatism. Most of these diseases are also called connective tissue diseases.

Sjogren's disease mostly attacks middle-aged women and there is a hereditary disposition (according to specific types of tissue). Almost 1/3 of these women also suffer from articular rheumatism. With articular rheumatism as the most frequently occuring connective tissue suffering, Sjogren's syndrome is in 2nd place. Besides the tear- and salivary glands, almost all organs of the body can be affected.

40% have kidney problems, but they are rarely severe. 1/4 have periodically inflammatory-like changes in their blood vessels with bruises and sore blood vessels in the legs. Neuritis and thyroid gland changes with a reduced production of metabolic hormones plus lymphatic problems can also occur.

Cyber eyes – CVS
People who spend hours each day in front of computers risk developing “cyber eyes”. They are irritated, dry eyes, which can sting or feel like they are full of sand. It can also lead requiring greater concentration for seeing sharply.

In an era where all anomalies are quickly named, this condition has of course been named. The symptoms are a part of a larger complex called CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome).

CVS has many causes including: inadequate lighting, screen reflection, poor office environment, low indoor humidity, and possibly pollution. The condition may also arise if using contact lenses or glasses of the wrong strength.

A study has shown that almost 90% of those who work with computers more than three hours daily experience eye problems to some degree.

When you sit in front of a computer screen you automatically blink less, which causes the eyes to dry out.

Recommendations

General advice on disease prevention and a healthy lifestyle can be found in the library article "General Advice - for healthy as well as for ill ones" in the VitaHealth section under Focus Articles. You can also test your health by taking our "Health Check".

The treatment first and foremost consists of counteracting the dry mucous membranes. You can use artificial lachrymal fluid for the eyes or castor oil for dripping, and for the mouth you can use artificial saliva.

It is important to drink plenty of fluid. Having a healthy oral hygiene is necessary on account of the lack of saliva affecting the teeth. It is also important to keep an eye on the metabolism.

It turns out that a large number of people benefit from a supplement of gamma-linolenic acid (=GLA) which is the precursor of a group of substances (type 1 prostaglandins) with many beneficial effects in the body. These effects are enhanced by a supplement of the trace minerals selenium and zinc and the vitamins A, betacarotene, -B6, -C, and -E. It is also a good idea to get many natural anti-oxidants from vegetables, fruits, and spices.

In 1999, a Danish scientific study showed that the dietary supplement LongoVital enhances the production of saliva and reduces the damage on the cornea in people with Sjogren's syndrome.

The substance bromhexine can relieve the dryness in Sjogren's syndrome quite substantially. Some people have benefitted from acupuncture and reflexology.

The prospects of Sjogren's syndrome are quite good and the disease normally does not shorten life. The development of the disease is partly dependent on the treatment and partly on the individual's way of reacting, but most autoimmune diseases tend to "burn out" in time. It is not always certain, however, that all symptoms will disappear.

Cyber eyes – CVS
It is important to hold small breaks away from the screen. Develop a routine where you consciously blink. Open the windows and check the humidity. You might need computer glasses, which are glasses that are set to be sharpest at the distance from your eyes to the screen when you sit and work.


Warnings

Certain types of medication, for example diuretics, remedies against too high blood pressure, and remedies against depression, can themselves result in dry mucous membranes, and it is therefore a good idea to avoid them in case of Sjogren's syndrome.

Remarks

Also "Articular rheumatism - Chronic polyarthritis", see "Autoimmune disorders in general", and "Hypothyroidism".