Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye.
Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults. Women are also more likely than men to experience dry eye. Read this blog to learn more about dry eye, including symptoms, causes, and how to prevent it.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
The most common symptom of dry eye is a burning sensation in the eyes.
Other symptoms include stinging, scratchiness, redness, stringy mucus in or around the eyes, painful swelling, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and the feeling of something foreign like sand in the eyes.
Besides the medical component, what patients often find most frustrating is the decreased quality of life. When dry eyes make it difficult to enjoy everyday activities like reading, or you find yourself constantly having to put lubricating drops in your eyes, it can affect your quality of life.
Dr. James Barton at Ensight Eyecare takes this very seriously and will work with you to restore the quality of life you desire and deserve.
What causes dry eye?
There are many possible causes of dry eye, including the following:
- Dry climate and/or windy conditions
- Staring at computer screens or other digital devices for long periods of time (computer vision syndrome)
- Driving for long distances
- Smoking tobacco products
- Certain medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications (beta blockers)
- Hormones (oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy during menopause)
- Eyelid problems such as blepharitis (chronic inflammation of the eyelid) or meibomian gland dysfunction (blockage of oil glands along the edge of the eyelid)
How is dry eye diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye exam is necessary to diagnose dry eye and rule out other potential problems.
During this exam, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will also conduct several tests including measuring your tear production, testing corneal sensitivity, examining your eyelids, assessing meibomian gland function, evaluating blinking quality, and examining your ocular surface with a microscope.
How can I prevent dry eye?
There are several preventative measures you can take to reduce the effects of dry eyes.
- Avoid air blowing in your eyes, such as a fan at work or the AC in your car.
- Use a humidifier in the winter to add moisture to the air.
- Take eye breaks during long tasks, such as staring at a computer for several hours.
- Avoid smoking or smoky environments and use artificial tears regularly.
- Also consider the foods and drinks you consume, which can play a role in ocular dryness. Our doctor can review this with you.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of dry eye, don’t hesitate to book an appointment. While there is no cure for dry eye, there are treatments available that can help relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life.