Probably about 10% of Australia’s population has dry eyes. Since I’m one of them, I’ve taken a particular interest in the condition called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or Meibomian Bletharitis and learnt that there’s more to our tears than we realise.
In fact our eyes have been so delicately and intricately crafted that it only takes a tiny malfunction in our Meibonian glands to give the idea that there’s a beach party in full swing with sand being the key ingredient. Understanding the make-up of tears has certainly helped me to appreciate the incredible planning and craftsmanship that went into this small part of our body. Let me explain as best I can.
There are three important layers in our tears. They all need be present in balanced quantities for our tears to effectively moisturise the eyes. The innermost layer that sits against the cornea is the mucin layer (it produces mucus). Next is the aqueous layer. This is made of water and is secreted by the lacrimal gland. The outer layer is made of oil, which is secreted by the meibomian glands which are located in the upper and lower eyelids.
In my case, and most instances of dry eyes, it is the failure of the meibomian glands to produce sufficient oil, that creates the sensation of dry eyes. I’m hoping for some relief from a new treatment called IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) that was featured on Channel 9’s “A Current Affair” about a month ago. In this treatment, intense light stimulates the glands.
I concur with the writer of the Psalms who said of God, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made“. For most of us three minute layers of mucus, water and oil in equal measure on the surface of the eye keep us comfortable day in, day out all our lives.
As if that weren’t complex enough, try adding the intangible elements of emotion. Add a little sadness, grief, joy or loss and see what happens.
Then there’s one more element, the spiritual: Early 19th century author, Washington Irving said:
… That’s tears made in heaven.