You’ve likely experienced the discomfort of dry eyes every now and again, but how do you know when it has turned into a more serious condition such as dry eye syndrome? Let’s discuss!
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is diagnosed when your eyes are unable to produce enough tears to stay lubricated. Tears are important for eye health because not only do they reduce the risk of eye infections, but they also help to flush out dust and debris to keep the surface of the eyes clear. It is a common disorder that effects an estimated 3.2 million women age 50 and over and 1.68 million men age 50 and over. It is usually triggered with age (especially during menopause for women), however certain medications, hormonal changes as well as environmental conditions such as air pollutants and indoor air temperature can also have an effect. In addition, anything that causes you to blink less such as reading or focusing on a computer screen for long periods of time can also lead to dry eyes. Blinking helps to keep eyes lubricated and moist. If you’re a long-term contact lens wearer, you’ve likely experienced the discomfort that dry eyes can bring about on more than one occasion. Contact lenses restrict the amount of oxygen that reaches the eyeballs, which in turn makes them feel dry. It is no surprise that dry eye is the most common complaint among contact lens wearers. Having dry eyes can make it hard to work on the computer, read and even drive.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
- A burning sensation and red eyes
- Persistent dryness
- Blurred vision
- Irritation from wearing contact lenses
- The feeling of a foreign substance in your eye(s)
- Watery eyes
The Treatment of Dry Eyes
If you think you may be suffering from any of the above symptoms, it is important to talk to your eye care professional because there are treatment options available. There is no cure-all solution for this condition, however there are many things that can provide temporary relief.
- Lubricating eye drops or artificial tears prescribed by your eye doctor can help to alleviate some of the uncomfortable and irritating side effects associated with dry eye
- If your dry eye is a result of wearing contact lenses, rewetting eye drops specifically made for contact lens use can also provide lubrication and temporary relief
- Try changing up your environment if you think the problem may be caused by your surroundings. Adding an air purifier to the room you spend most of your time in can help to remove dust and debris that may be causing irritation. A humidifier can be used to release moisture back into the dry air created from air conditioning or heating systems.
- Omega-3 fatty acids support your overall eye health and decrease the risk of macular degeneration as well as decrease the symptoms of dry eye. Try to incorporate omega 3-fatty acids from salmon and other oily fish such as cod and herring into your diet at least twice a week
- Drinking more water can help to hydrate your body and your eyes as dehydration only worsens the effects of dry eyes
- Punctal plugs (tear duct plugs) can be used to keep moisture in the eyes by blocking tears from draining
- If your dry eyes are a result of you staring at a computer screen all day, it can be helpful to follow the golden 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds and blink repeatedly to help lubricate your eyes and restore moisture
- LASIK can eliminate your need to rely on glasses and/or contact lenses to see clearly. With LASIK you can say bye-bye to dry eyes created by contact lenses
At Bense Vision we care about your eye health. If you think you may be suffering from chronic dry eyes, we advise you to see your eye care professional who will determine if treatment is necessary. If you’re interested in LASIK, we encourage you to book a free LASIK consultation!