How to Live with Dry Eye
One of the most common health conditions suffered by millions of people is dry eyes. Dry eye occurs when your eyes are unable to produce a sufficient amount of tears to keep your eyes moist. This can occur for a number of reasons, including genetics and taking certain medications that include a side effect of dry eye. When caused by a genetic condition, your eyes either don’t produce enough tears or produce tears that are of poor quality. The condition can bring about a great deal of discomfort. Your eyes can feel irritated and even sting or burn. Some situations can make your eyes feel worse, such as being outdoors in extremely cold weather, being on a plane with stale, canned air or using a computer for hours at a time.
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye
There are many symptoms of dry eye. In general, these normally affect both eyes. If you experience any of the following, you probably suffer from dry eye.
- Sensitivity to light
- Burning or itching sensation in the eyes
- Redness of the eyes
- The sensation that there is something in your eyes
- Blurred vision
- Fatigue of the eye
- Mucus in or around the eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Difficulty with driving at night
- Watery eyes
If you have experienced any combination of these signs and symptoms, you should see your doctor or make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist. The specialist will be able to diagnose you and prescribe the appropriate treatment to bring you much-needed relief.
Causes of Dry Eye
Dry eyes are caused by a lack of tear production. Tears are made up of water, mucus and fatty oils. The combination helps to keep the surface of the eyes clear and smooth and provides protection against infection. In some individuals, dry eye simply means a decrease in tear production, but in others, it is caused by tears evaporating too quickly due to an imbalance.
Certain factors can come into play that cause dry eyes. Aging, medical conditions like diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disorders can all cause the problem. Some medications can also lead to the problem of dry eye. Chiefly, decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy drugs, birth control pills, acne medications, drugs for high blood pressure and medications for Parkinson’s disease can cause dry eye. Laser eye surgery can also cause it, although it is usually a temporary problem in that case. Finally, tear gland damage from radiation can lead to dry eye.
Risk Factors for Dry Eye
Certain factors determine that you have a greater risk for developing dry eye. Being a woman is one, as the condition affects women more than men and can come about due to hormone changes. If you are over the age of 50, dry eye is a common problem, as is being a contact lens wearer.
In addition, your diet can be a risk factor for dry eye. If you consume very little Vitamin A, which is found in foods like broccoli, carrots and liver, you are more at risk. Having too little omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in walnuts, vegetable oils and fish, is also a risk factor.
Complications of Dry Eye
Dry eye can lead to certain complications. These include the following:
- Eye Infections: When you don’t produce adequate or quality tears, you’re at a greater risk for eye infection
- Damage to Eyes’ Surface: Your eyes can suffer from inflammation if untreated, which can lead to corneal ulcers and vision problems
- Decreased Quality of Life: Dry eye can affect your everyday life and make it hard to perform routine activities like reading or using a computer or mobile device
Dry Eye Treatment
In general, most treatments for dry eye involve prescription eyedrops. There are also other drugs the doctor might prescribe, such as those that reduce inflammation. Another highly prescribed treatment is over the counter moisturizing eyedrops like Blink, which you can purchase at any drugstore.
If you suffer from dry eye, it’s important to see your doctor. You can receive effective treatment that can alleviate your misery and help you to live a normal life.