Air conditioning doubles risk of dry eye

Eutrope Turazzi - LDC Communication

43328.jpegIncreased temperature and air conditioning cause cases of dry eye that predispose to other diseases.

Red eyes, sensation of a foreign body, burning, itching and blurred vision are symptoms of dry eye syndrome that is crowding the clinics. According to Institute ophthalmologists Penido Burnier and Leoncio Queiroz Neto, last week the number of patients with dry eye symptoms has doubled. No wonder. WHO (World Health Organization) indicates that the incidence of the syndrome jumps from 10% to 20% in the summer with workers who abuse air conditioning in enclosed spaces without ventilation.

Under these conditions, the air becomes very dry and even those with normal tear production may feel some discomfort in the eyes, says Queiroz Neto. The problem, he stresses, is that daily exposure to dry air can cause this uncomfortable situation to progress to a chronic change in the tear film.

The expert explained that dry eye syndrome is the change in quality or quantity of the three layers of the tear - Oily (exterior), water (middle) and protein (inner). Low humidity chilled environments, cause evaporation from the aqueous layer. Without lubrication, the eyes are more vulnerable to inflammation and infection. To make matters worse, WHO data shows that the poor hygiene of air conditioning facilitates the proliferation of viruses, bacteria and fungi.

"That explains why conjunctivitis is a major cause of work absenteeism during the summer," he says.

Risk factors

Queiroz Neto says that dry eye can affect both men and women, but the female population are twice as likely to have trouble. That's because the syndrome may be related to changes in the level of estrogen during the reproductive phase and the lack of it in post menopause. "Intermittent Blepharitis (eyelid inflammation) may occur due to lack of testosterone in the eyelid that interferes with the functioning of the gland that secretes tears," he explains.

Besides dry air and hormonal risk factors other causes:


Decongestants, antihistamines, tranquilizers, antidepressants, diuretics, oral contraceptives, anesthetics, beta blockers, anticholinergics.


Arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis, Sjögren syndrome, allergies and Parkinson's

Contact lenses

hydrophilic moisturizing tears


After the age of 65 years, tear production decreases in our eyes 60%.

Excessive artificial tear eye irritation

The only eye drop indicated in the treatment of dry eye is artificial tears. Contrary to what many think, it is not a harmless drug. The ophthalmologist says that some patients insert this type of eye drops 10 times a day when the recommendation is 4 times. Excessive irritation occurs because of the preservatives. "As the saying goes - the difference between poison and medicine is the dose," he says. It is necessary to analyse the tear to indicate the correct treatment. Evaporative dry eye formulas are more watery. For deficiency in the production of the tear, the formulas are slimy, he says.

When tear production is marred by intermittent blepharitis, treatment can be done with a cream containing testosterone. In more severe cases of inflammation, cortisone or cyclosporine may be used, an immune suppressor. The proper medication will always depend on the medical evaluation. "Using eye drops on your own can cause serious diseases such as cataract and glaucoma that can lead to blindness," he warns.

The treatment of severe dry eye may require a temporary graft or permanent plugs to channel the occluded tear.

Prevention Tips

The specialist says that to stimulate tear production, the recommendation is to avoid eating meat, fats and carbohydrates. The first step in improving the lubrication of the eyes is to drink 2 liters of water a day. The diet should include sources of fatty acids found in flaxseed, fish oil, almonds, and fruit and vegetables rich in vitamins A and E.

In activities that require visual concentration such as the use of a computer the tips are: positioning the screen 30 degrees below the eye line, making 5 minute breaks every hour of work and blink voluntarily.

Translated from the Portuguese version by:


Lisa Karpova


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Author`s name Oksana Orlovskaya