Could I Benefit From Dry Eye Treatment?
Do you notice yourself frequently wanting to rub your eyes? Do you need to use eye drops multiple times throughout the day to relieve your itchy, inflamed eyes?
These are two of the signs and symptoms that you could have dry eye syndrome. But, no matter what you hear, there are ways to treat dry eye syndrome that end the struggle to keep your eyes healthy and hydrated.
Are you ready to think about how having dry eyes is impacting your life? Keep reading to learn how you can benefit from treating your dry eyes.
What is Dry Eye?
When you hear people talk about dry eyes, they are likely talking about two different things. Having dry eyes is a common experience for many people, especially during spring or for smokers.
Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by deeper underlying issues than common environmental causes. It can have a few causes, but the most common are issues with your tears.
There are ways to treat the environmental causes and the tear production causes of dry eye. And it is best to treat whatever is causing your dry eye because it can cause long-term eye damage if you don’t.
What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
Dry eye syndrome has many symptoms that you can probably relate to. Symptoms include:
- Itchy eyes
- Red eyes
- Blurry vision
- A gritty sensation
- Feeling like there is a foreign object in your eye
- Light sensitivity
What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome occurs when your tear production system is not working correctly. This happens in one of two ways.
First, you can underproduce tears, which means you don’t have enough fluids to nourish your eyes. You may need to drink more water or have an eye doctor check your tear production system.
You can also overproduce tears and still end up with dry eyes. This happens if you are producing low-quality, imbalanced tears.
When your eyes are dry, a signal gets sent to your nervous system to increase lubrication. Your eyes then create tears to resolve the dryness. But if these tears are low quality, they will do nothing to relieve the dryness.
Healthy tears are a combination of three ingredients. Water, mucus, and oil all must be present for balanced tears.
If one of these ingredients is lacking or missing, you can overproduce tears but still have dry eyes. The most common cause of dry eyes while overproducing tears is a lack of oil.
Oil is necessary to ensure your tears do not evaporate off the surface of your eye. If oil is lacking, your eyes can constantly run but remain dry because the water is evaporating.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Your environment, lifestyle, and medications can also cause dry eyes. Environmental causes include air blowing in your eyes, frequently flying, being outdoors, and allergies.
Examples of lifestyle causes are excessive screen use throughout the day or smoking. It’s helpful to remember that anything you do that causes eye strain or itchiness can lead to dry eyes.
Health problems and medications are some of the most common causes of dry eyes. Medicines that increase dryness include antihistamines, antidepressants, and birth control.
Health issues that frequently lead to dry eyes include:
- Blocked tear ducts
- Thyroid disorders
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Eyelid conditions like ectropion and entropion
Contact lenses are also a widespread cause of dry eyes. They dry your eyes out, and constantly adjusting and replacing them irritates your eyes.
Understanding the cause of your dry eyes helps determine the proper treatment.
Dry Eye Treatments
There is a wide array of dry eye treatments depending on what is creating the dryness.
Artificial tears work best for mild cases of dry eye. For example, if your eyes get dry from reading or using a computer, artificial tears will help keep them hydrated.
Prescription Eye Drops
Your doctor might recommend prescription eye drops to treat your dry eye. A popular prescription eye drop is Restasis, which lubricates and decreases inflammation linked to dry eye.
To experience the full benefits of using prescription eye drops, you need to use them for at least 90 days. Always follow your eye doctor’s instructions when using prescription medications.
Steroid Eye Drops
Treating inflammation in chronic dry eyes is vital. Eye inflammation has ties to many dry eye symptoms, and treating it can reduce discomfort and lead to increased tear production.
Punctal plugs are little devices that plug the drains, called puncta, in your eyes. Plugging the puncta keeps more moisture in your eyes to relieve dry, itchy eyes.
Omega-3 Rich foods
Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help naturally reduce your dry eye. Fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help with the eye’s oil production.
Maintaining proper hydration helps your eyes produce enough moisture to keep them nourished. A well-hydrated body has well-hydrated eyes.
If you live in a dry climate or have an air conditioner or heater blowing on you, a humidifier is essential. Humidifiers put moisture back into the air to reduce dry eyes caused by your environment.
What Happens if You Do Not Treat Dry Eye?
Deciding not to treat dry eye can lead to severe conditions and continued discomfort. Chronic dry eyes can lower your quality of life, cause eye infections, and damage your cornea.
Tears protect the surface of your eye from infection. If you do not produce enough quality tears, you could have a higher risk of eye infections.
When you do not treat severe dry eyes, you can increase eye inflammation. Extreme eye inflammation can lead to vision problems and a corneal ulcer.
Are dry eyes affecting your quality of life? Unfortunately, having dry eyes and dry eye syndrome can make enjoying life more difficult.
If dry eye is negatively impacting your life, talk with your eye doctor about treatment options. Schedule an appointment at Complete EyeCare West in Columbus, OH, to discuss ending your dry eye!