Dry eye is the condition that occurs when the eyes produce poor-quality tears or are not able to produce enough tears to protect the eyes. Tears are a necessary element for maintaining the health of your eyes. They provide them with lubrication and moisture to create a transparent film on their surface.
Signs that you might be experiencing dry eyes include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision at night
- Mucus forming inside or around your eyes
- Stinging, or burning sensation in your eyes
- Redness and scratchy sensation in your eyes
- The constant feeling there is something inside your eyes
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes usually result from a lack of adequate tears due to decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation. It may also result from an imbalance in tear composition. Reasons behind each cause are as follows:
Reduced Tear Production – It can occur as a part of the natural aging process for people over 50, or due to hormonal changes in women caused by pregnancy or menopause. Certain medical conditions may also increase the chances of getting a dry eye, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, lupus, and thyroid problems. The use of certain medications such as blood pressure medications and antidepressants can reduce tear production as well.
Increased Tear Evaporation – This might occur with high exposure to dry air, smoke, or wind. It can also happen if you tend to concentrate on something without blinking, such as reading a book or looking at a computer screen.
Imbalance In Tear Composition - Your tears are made up of water, mucus, and fatty oils. This mixture is what makes the surface of your eyes smooth and helps protect your eyes from infection. Problems with any of these substances disrupt the function of tears, causing dry eye.
Ways to Manage Your Dry Eye Symptoms
While the optometrist can help you diagnose and treat dry eyes, there are a few measures you can take to reduce dry eye symptoms and feel more comfortable.
Regular Blinking – As simple as blinking seems, it’s crucial to your eyes' health, cleansing your eyes and keeping them moist to protect you from eye infections. Remember to blink more frequently next time you read a book or sit in front of a screen for extended periods.
Increase Air Humidity – Increase the humidity of the air by reducing the use of air conditioners or by using a humidifier. Dry air is a significant cause of dry eye and eye infections.
Use Sunglasses – This will help you protect your eyes from constant exposure to sun and wind.
Hydrate Your Body – Drinking plenty of water hydrates your body, eyes included.
Take Essential Fatty Acids – If certain mineral deficiencies are behind your dry eye condition, taking nutritional supplements may help to decrease dry eye symptoms. Only the optometrist can identify and prescribe the proper dietary supplements for your dry eye problems.
Treating Dry Eyes
Depending on the cause and severity of your dry eye condition, the optometrist can prescribe treatments that help to keep your eye health and vision from being affected. Primary approaches may include adding tears using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions, conserving your tears by blocking the tear ducts through which the tears normally drain, or using tear drops to increase tear production.
At Atlantic Eye Consultants, we are more than happy to help.We diagnose, treat, and manage symptoms of dry eye. If you have any questions or need an appointment, contact our friendly staff today and get all your questions answered.