What is Dry Eye?
Dry eyes happen when your eyes cannot produce tears properly or when tears evaporate too quickly. Inflammation along the eye’s surface may also accompany this problem. If left untreated, dry eyes can result in pain and other issues. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults. Almost 40 million people experience dry eye. So, here are some most important facts about dry eye and solutions for the appropriate treatment.
What Causes Dry Eye?
The common causes of dry eyes include skin disease on or around the eyelids, pregnancy, and women who are on hormone replacement therapy. Dry eyes can also develop from thermal and chemical burns. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), dry eyes can result from long-term use or improperly wearing the contact lenses. Dry eyes can also come from various things, such as:
- Operation or surgery
- Long-term contact lens use
- Smoke exposure
- Certain medications
What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
It is possible that you have dry eyes when there is a stinging or burning sense in your eyes. A sandy or gritty feeling also points to this problem. Some patients say that they feel like their eyelids are heavy. They cannot also cry when emotionally stressed. Other signs that you might have dry eyes are having episodes of excess tears after very dry periods and stringy discharges from the eyes. For those who wear contact lenses, you will feel:
- Extremely uncomfortable
- Burning and itching
- Blurred vision
- Excess watering
Treatments for Dry Eye
Depending on the causes of dry eye, your doctor may use various approaches to relieve the symptoms. The first priority is to determine if a disease is the underlying cause of the dry eye. Cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory medication, is the only prescription drug available to treat dry eye. It decreases corneal damage, increases basic tear production, and reduces symptoms of dry eye. If contact lens wear is the problem, your eye care practitioner may recommend another type of lens or reducing the number of hours you wear your lenses. In some cases, a simple surgery, called punctual cautery, is recommended to permanently close the drainage holes. In some patients with dry eye, supplements or dietary sources (such as tuna fish) of omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA and EPA) may decrease symptoms of irritation.
- Artificial tears
- Plugging tear ducts
- Prescriptions to reduce inflammation
- Increasing tear production
What are the Prevention Methods for Dry Eye?
- Blink often when using computers
- Increase the humidity of your environment
- Wear sunglasses outdoor often
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily
- Consume omega 3s, and vitamins A, D3, and E
Chronic dry eyes can be painful and distracting, but they’re also treatable. If you’re one of the nearly five million Americans with dry eyes, talk to your doctor. You can get treatment to relieve your symptoms, perhaps even long-term. Your eyes are worth taking care of, no matter how old you are.