The human eye is amazing. So many separate little elements work together to give us the wonderful gift of eyesight. Besides everything going on inside the eye itself (including the cornea, iris, pupil, lens, retina, optic disc, veins, nerves and fluids) there is a myriad of other critical work being done around the eye to keep it functioning properly.
It is easy to see how eyelids and lashes protect our eyes. But there’s a lot more. There are glands, ducts, sacs and puncta that all do their part to keep the eye healthy.
You’ve probably noticed that there should always be a layer of moisture on your eyes. That moisture is called basal tears. Even though it has the word tears in it, it’s not the same as the tears that drop down your cheeks when you cry. Basal tears are the moisture that is constantly produced to keep your eyes wet, healthy and comfortable.
Let’s take a look at how basal tears affect the surface of the eye. We created this diagram to provide a clear view.
Note: Lately experts talk about basal tears as being more of a mix rather than separate defined layers as previously thought, but the functions remain.
Basal tears are a mix of 3 layers:
- The Mucin Layer: it helps adhere the rest of the layers to the eye surface
- The Aqueous Layer: it hydrates, protects the eye and can even repel certain bacteria
- The Lipid Layer: comprised of Meibum, an oily film, it lubricates the eye, provides a smooth surface to see through and prevents evaporation
The Lipid Layer is the most important for preventing dry eyes. It protects the other layers so they can do their job. The oily Meibum prevents the surface of the eye from becoming dry and uncomfortable. That Meibum is produced by Meibomian Glands in the upper and lower eyelids. These glands go to work every time you blink.
Step 1: We blink to clean, protect and moisten our eyes.
Step 2: When our eyelids meet there is slight pressure on both the upper and lower lids, this causes the Meibomian Glands to release the Meibum.
Step 3: The Meibum is then spread evenly across the exposed surface of the eye as we open our eyes.
It’s so subtle you would never know that it happens, but it is so important that you notice that it does not happen.
There are different types of dry eyes, but the most common cause is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or Evaporative Dry Eyes. When your eyes feel dry it is usually because the Meibomian Glands are not functioning optimally.
Why Do We Get Dry Eyes?
The lipid layer, aka the Meibum, that protects all the moisture on our eyes is so very important. When we are dehydrated or if we don’t blink enough, or if you experience Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, that important oily substance can have the wrong consistency and Meibomian Glands can become clogged.
If the glands are clogged the substance won’t be able to create a nice smooth even surface to protect your basal tears and your eye.
It really is amazing to think about all the different things going on in and around your eyes. There are so many synchronized elements that allow us to visually experience the world. Many people think that dry eyes just mean discomfort, but dry eyes can lead to other severe eye problems.
So, What is the Best Solution for Dry Eyes?
Moist-Heat Therapy is the best natural solution to provide dry eye relief.
Find out more about how moist-heat therapy works on dry eyes: The Natural Practical Solution for Dry Eyes
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