Dry Eye And Tears Are Not The Same


If you’ve been plagued with dry eye symptoms and are tired of flaky eyes, it’s time to learn how the tear system works. This will help you understand what is happening when you see your doctor or pharmacist. You’ll learn why dry eye syndrome (DES) is a common diagnosis, why there are so many different types of DES and what treatments currently exist to treat this condition.

A Normal Tear Is a Three Part System

Tears are a three-part system that work together to keep the eye moist and healthy. The outer lipid layer keeps the tear film from evaporating too quickly, while the middle aqueous layer helps spread out evenly across your cornea. The inner mucin layer is responsible for providing nourishment to your cornea as well as keeping your eyes moist.

When you have dry eye, this system is compromised because of an imbalance between these three layers: either there’s not enough of one or more of them are missing entirely. When this happens, it can cause all sorts of problems including blurry vision and even headaches!

Tears Are Composed of Three Layers

The way tears work is pretty fascinating, and it’s important to know the layers that make up a healthy tear film. The 3 layers of tears are:

  • An outermost watery layer (aqueous or serous) that helps keep bacteria from entering the eye
  • A middle mucus layer composed primarily of lipids (fats) which aid in lubrication and help prevent evaporation
  • An inner lipid layer that protects against abrasions from foreign particles and pathogens

The Outer Lipid Layer

The outer lipid layer, or tear film is composed of three distinct layers: an outermost protective layer called the lipid layer or tear film; a middle watery layer called the aqueous layer; and an innermost mucus-like layer called the mucin. The lipids are fatty substances that form a thin coat on your eyeball. This coating is essential to keeping your eyes moist and preventing infection by trapping bacteria as they try to enter through your tear ducts. Without this coating, you would be constantly struggling with dry eyes!

The Middle Aqueous Layer

The aqueous layer is the middle layer of your tear film. It’s not just water, but a combination of water and other important compounds that allow your eye to properly hydrate and protect itself from foreign objects. In fact, it’s the thinnest part of your tear film. This means that if your Tear Film Layer is off balance, you’ll experience dry eyes or dry spots on your cornea (the clear front window of your eye). The Middle Aqueous Layer also helps with the movement in order for the Lachrymal Gland to produce tears when needed; this process needs to happen quickly in order for you not to experience discomfort.

The Inner Mucin Layer

Did you know that the mucus layer is the innermost layer of the tear film? It’s important to note that a healthy mucus layer will help keep your eyes from drying out and may even protect them from infection. The mucus layer provides lubrication and helps to keep tears from evaporating.

When it comes to dry eye or Sjögren’s syndrome, this is where things get tricky: You might have a healthy mucus layer but not enough tears overall. Or you could be producing too much lacrimal fluid—but not enough tears overall. Either way, if your body is creating too much lacrimal fluid without creating enough emollient (or oily) components like lysozyme or lipids, then it can cause problems with dryness in your eyes over time when they get exposed to air for long periods of time without protection by other layers like gooey mucin proteins!

There are several factors that cause dry eye, which can be classified as either evaporative or aqueous deficient.

  • There are several factors that cause dry eye, which can be classified as either evaporative or aqueous deficient.
  • Dry eye is a common condition but it’s not just the elderly who experience it. Pregnancy and other medical conditions can also lead to dry eyes, as well as certain medications.
  • If you have dry eyes and tear deficiency, there are treatments available to help relieve symptoms and restore comfort.


All hope is not lost, though. If you have dry eye and are considering surgery, there are several options that can help you keep your natural tears healthy. Depending on the severity of your condition, these options may include artificial tear supplements or even surgery for those with extreme cases.