Have your eyes been feeling dry and itchy? You may already be experiencing Dry Eye Syndrome (DES).
"Dry eye syndrome is a large and growing problem," said Dr. Victor Caparas, the top ophthalmologist at a major hospital in Metro Manila said.
"Numerous studies estimate Dry Eye to affect between 5 per cent to as much as 40 per cent of a country's population," Caparas said, raising public awareness of the condition.
He said eyes could feel very dry, especially after staring at a book, TV or computer screen for a long time and not blinking so often. It could also result from being in very cold or windy weather.
The doctor suggested taking 30-minute breaks to rest the eyes or to simply remember to blink.
Eyes usually give a sign that they are already dry and it's time to blink, said Caparas, who chairs the Department of Ophthalmology of The Medical City in Pasig City.
However, if eyes are already often dry and sore, Caparas suggested consulting with an ophthalmologist. Frequent dryness and soreness in the eyes may already be symptoms of DES, which is the inability to produce enough tears for eye lubrication.
The common causes of decreased tear production include aging, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren's syndrome, thyroid disorders and vitamin A deficiency.
Also, taking certain medications like antihistamines, decongestants, hormones, antidepressants, and drugs for high blood pressure, acne, birth control and Parkinson's disease could lead to dry eyes.
Although Dry Eye Syndrome is not a frequent cause of blindness, it has emerged as a public health problem.
According to The Medical City's Department of Ophthalmology, DES is a leading reason for people to seek eye care.
People with the condition experience stinging or burning sensation, sandy or gritty feeling, stringy mucus in and around the eye, increased sensitivity to light and to wind/drafts, blurred vision, and increased reflex tearing.
The symptoms can be bothersome and lead to a decreased quality of life, reduced work capacity, and poor psychological health.
The problem has become pervasive enough that The Medical City put up a Dry Eye Clinic to help patients respond to the condition.
Apart from having experts in eye care to look after patients, the Dry Eye Clinic is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to properly diagnose and treat the problem, said Anne Ruth dela Cruz, communications manager of The Medical City.