Clearing the air of dry eye syndrome

Clearing the air of dry eye syndrome

Incidence of dryness in the eyes increases during summers due to air-conditioners, writes Dr Lavanya Marineni


In summer, on an average, we might be spending around 14 to 16 hours per day in an air-conditioned room, a regular way to safeguard ourselves from hot climatic conditions. The flip side to this, however, is that these artificial air and temperature changes caused by ACs do more harm to our health.

Why does AC cause dry eyes?

Adequate quality and quantity of tears in the eyes is essential for the smooth feeling and functioning of eyes.

Dry eye syndrome is the change in quality or quantity of the three layers of the tear film ­— oily (exterior), water/aqueous layer (middle) and protein (inner). In an air-conditioned room, especially in very low temperatures, there is loss of humidity and the air becomes extremely dry and causes evaporative dry eyes and long-term exposure can also alter the lipid production from glands in the eyelids causing both, change in quality and quantity of tear film, and hence dry eyes.

Without lubrication, eyes are more vulnerable to inflammation and infection.

Major symptoms

Symptoms of dry eyes and dry eye syndrome are burning, dryness, foreign body sensation, itchiness, unable to open eyes/eye fatigue, heaviness, watering of the eyes and blurred vision.

The reading speed can slow down and the rate decreases as the severity increases. The other important causes of dry eyes are the natural ageing process, especially menopause, and hence women are more affected by dry eyes.

Certain medical conditions including diabetes, thyroid disorders and Vitamin A deficiency, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases also cause dry eyes.

(The author is consultant ophthalmologist, Dr Agarwal Eye Hospital)