When there are insufficient tears to moisten the eyes for comfort, symptoms such as stinging pain, foreign body sensation, burning and production of mucus can occur. Some patients say that they feel as though they do not have enough tears. The discomfort can vary from person to person. Such discomfort worsens with prolonged reading or exposure to wind or cigarette smoke. These symptoms associated with tears, namely with the insufficiency of tears or its components, signify a condition called scheroma. The causes of scheroma
Scheroma can be caused by the insufficiency of the three components of tears, or due to abnormalities in the cornea or the eyelids leading to an absence of the tear film. It is also normal for tear production to decline with aging, and although scheroma can occur in both genders in all age groups, it is more common in postmenopausal women. It can also be associated with arthritis, where oral dryness can also occur due to the insufficient secretion of saliva. Some medications can also reduce tear formation to cause scheroma. Treatment of scheroma
The main treatment is the use of artificial tears topically to soften, lubricate and maintain the moisture of the eyes. There are many artificial tear solutions on the market, and you should choose a product that suits you the most. Artificial tears should be used 3-4 times daily according to the symptoms of scheroma, and some people may need to use this several times in an hour. People who find it difficult to open their eyes in the morning due to dryness and pain can use topical eye ointments that contain artificial tear solutions, but they can lead to temporary blurred vision so you should use a minimal amount or avoid using them during the day.
It can also help to maintain a humid environment together with pharmacological treatment to reduce the evaporation of tears. For example, you can use air humidifiers or reduce the room temperature. In dry environments, you can place a bowl of water nearby. Avoid dyeing your hair, using a blow dryer, sprays, windy days and cigarette smoke, which can all worsen the dryness of your eyes.
3. Surgical treatment
This is a method of preserving tears that are produced naturally, which involves the blockage of the tear duct where tears drain through. A temporary blockage can be used, and if it is effective, a permanent procedure can be done using galvanocautery or by inserting a silicone plug.
Scheroma can lead to foreign body sensation and also lead to blurred vision. It leads to an absence of lubrication of the eyes, which is the main function of the tears, leading to inflammation and damage to the cornea. In severe cases it can cause serious damage to the eyes. Therefore it is important that you see an ophthalmologist regularly for check-ups and receive appropriate treatment.
By Chung Tae-young
The author is a doctor at the Department of Ophthalmology at Samsung Medical Center and a professor of Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine. ― Ed.