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What dries up eyes and what then helps.
In the colder months, many people in Germany suffer from dry eyes. The eye experts Professor Philipp Steven and Ludger Wollring reveal what can be done about it.
Drops, gels and ointments: There are numerous remedies for dry eyes. The number of possible causes is at least as great. And the screen isn't always to blame. Blinking, jingling your eyes - that's a must. It happens every five seconds, automatically. Usually.
Certain activities can dry your eyes
But those who work on the screen for a long time or read a book with great concentration sometimes forget it. This can help your eyes to dry out. You are tired, burning and itchy. It feels like there is a grain of sand in your eye.
Disturbed tear film as a possible cause
This is not a pure disorder of well-being - but maybe even an indication of a serious problem. "The complaints can be a consequence of the fact that the composition of the tear film in the eyes is disturbed," explains Prof. Philipp Steven from the Center for Ophthalmology at the University Hospital Cologne.
Tears are the lubricants for the eyes
The tear film has an important function: it moisturizes the eyes and thus enables perfect vision. The lacrimal gland is largely responsible for the production of the tear fluid. It produces the aqueous layer, which contains, among other things, table salt. The conjunctiva creates the mucus layer, the so-called Meibomian gland the fat layer. The tear film consists of these three layers. "The right mix is important here," says Ludger Wollring, spokesman for the professional association of ophthalmologists in Germany.
The tear film reaches the eye through several passages. For example, it ensures that the eyelids slide smoothly. It also moisturizes the cornea and rinses foreign objects out of the eyes. If too little tear fluid is produced, the tear film threatens to tear or become perforated.
One complaint - many triggers
Symptoms such as overused and red eyes can severely affect the quality of life of those affected. "Only a specialist can diagnose dry eyes," emphasizes Steven. Because the eye problems can also have other causes.
There are a number of triggers. For example, the tear film production decreases with age. "Women are more affected than men," says Wollring. But that doesn't mean that dry eyes are a problem for the elderly alone: Constant work on the computer and frequent use of the smartphone also affect many younger people - especially if they are exposed to heating air, a dry indoor climate or ventilation by air conditioning .
Even wearing contact lenses can dry out your eyes or make existing problems worse. There is also a risk of certain medicines inhibiting the production of tear fluid. “These include, for example, beta blockers, antidepressants or birth control pills,” explains Steven.
Dry eyes can also be the result of chemotherapy or, for example, associated with the skin disease rosacea. Rheumatism and diabetes are also possible triggers. Wrong make-up removal can cause eye irritation and the tear film can be disturbed.
From drops to ointments
There are various treatment methods to get the complaints under control. The doctor often prescribes drops to moisturize the eyes. "The drops contain active ingredients that balance the three-layer tear film," explains Steven.
Alternatively, there are gels for dry eyes. Their advantage: they adhere better. The disadvantage: After the immediate use of a gel, vision is temporarily somewhat restricted. In more severe cases of dry eyes, the doctor prescribes an ointment. In severe cases, cortisone-containing preparations are also used. And in some cases, the doctor also has to treat the edges of the eyelids - for example, if secretion there blocks the drainage of the tear fluid.
This is how to prevent dry eyes
As a preventative measure, it is important to take good care of ametropia correction, as Steven explains. “If you have to read a lot in everyday life, you shouldn't wear contact lenses if possible.” This promotes dry eyes. The risk increases if someone is short-sighted and does not use glasses or contact lenses for correction. Because people with defective vision without visual aids have to strain their eyes very much in order to be able to recognize everything correctly.
What is helpful in any case: "Even with the highest concentration, think of blinking," says Wollring. "And often let your gaze wander into the distance to relax." (Vb; source: Sabine Meuter, dpa)