Why do people blink their eyes

Heating air, smoke or PC work: blinking keeps your eyes moist

Dry eyes

11/21/17 (ams). Dry eyes are not only annoying, they can also be painful. Many people struggle with it, especially in the cold season. Sometimes only a slight feeling of foreign bodies and dryness in the eyes bothers. In the morning the eyes are sticky with whitish secretions. One of the causes is the dry air in heated rooms. "Heating air, but also air conditioning systems allow the tear film on the eye to evaporate more quickly," says Anja Debrodt, a doctor in the AOK Federal Association. In many cases, simple means help to make the symptoms go away again. It is estimated that around 20 percent of the patients who go to the ophthalmologist in Germany suffer from dry eyes. The triggers of sicca syndrome, as dry eyes are medically called, are diverse. Certain autoimmune diseases such as diabetes or Crohn's disease can cause dry eyes. Medicines such as beta blockers or antidepressants can also be triggers. Age also plays a role, as the production of tear fluid gradually decreases in older people. "However, if the complaints mainly occur in winter and stop again after the heating season, one can assume that the heating air is the cause," continues Debrodt.
The tear film consists of three layers. The top layer is mainly made up of fats. Their job is to prevent the watery middle layer from evaporating quickly. The inner mucous layer is adjacent to the cornea. Among other things, it is responsible for ensuring that the components of the tear film can adhere better to the eye. When you blink - about ten to 15 times a minute - the wafer-thin tear film is evenly distributed over the cornea and moisturizes the eyes. On the one hand, it protects the eye from foreign bodies. On the other hand, it contains various substances such as antibodies and enzymes that supply the eye with nutrients and ward off pathogens.

Ready-to-broadcast radio interview with Anja Debrodt, a doctor in the AOK Federal Association

The sicca syndrome occurs because either there is not enough tear fluid or the tear film is no longer optimally composed. The result: the protective tear film on the cornea becomes too thin and tears. When the eyes get dry they start to itch. So-called tear substitutes or eye drops help as a quick antidote for dry eyes. They create an artificial film on the eyes and protect them from drying out. If you only have symptoms every now and then, you should use thin-bodied tear substitutes. In the case of severe complaints, however, thick preparations are better. It often takes a while to find the right preparation to bring the disturbed tear film back into balance. Those affected should ask the ophthalmologist.

To prevent or alleviate discomfort, humidifiers and green plants in the rooms help. These increase the humidity. Repeated ventilation serves the same purpose. In addition, those affected should drink enough - about one and a half liters a day. However, patients with heart disease should ask if this also applies to them. Sufficient sleep is also important so that the eyes can relax. Cigarette smoke, on the other hand, is irritating to the eyes. Caution should also be exercised when choosing cosmetics. These should be as low in irritation as possible to protect the eyes. If you wear contact lenses, you have to be particularly careful, because the lenses should actually swim in the tear film. But even with a healthy tear film, contact lenses cause more evaporation than would be the case without them. Anyone who wears contact lenses is therefore well advised to pay particular attention to a higher level of humidity and maybe put on glasses every now and then if the recommended agents don't help. Concentrated work on the computer also dries out eyes. If you only blink once or twice a minute while staring at the screen, you are not distributing enough tear fluid to your eyes. Here you can consciously blink more often, take small breaks or just look into the distance for a few minutes. Basically, if the symptoms do not stop despite all your own efforts, and also if the conjunctiva is also reddened, an infection that requires treatment can be concealed behind it. Then those affected should definitely go to the ophthalmologist to clarify serious illnesses.

On the ams topic 03/17

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