When your eyes do not produce enough tears, or the balance between tears and drainage is off balance, dry eye can result. Tears serve many important functions for eye health including lubrication, reduction in the risk for infection, and to clear away irritants such as pollen or dust particles. Dry eye can be the result of a medical condition, or simply caused by certain habits or environments.
What are the symptoms?
- Stinging, burning, or a scratchy feeling in the eyes
- Irritation from smoke or wind
- Eye fatigue or redness
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred Vision
Which environments or habits are most likely to cause Dry Eye?
- Being in an airplane
- Riding a bike or motorcycle
- Being in air conditioned rooms
- Computer viewing or reading for prolonged periods of time
- Living in a dry or windy climate
What medical conditions are linked to Dry Eye?
KCS or Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca is the medical name for when the eyes do not produce sufficient tears. Sjögren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that impairs the glands that produce tears and saliva. Additionally, those with Thyroid abnormalities, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus can experience Dry Eye as a result of these conditions.
Other risk factors include:
- Being over the age of 65
- Being female
- Taking certain medications including decongestants, antihistamines, blood pressure medicine, and antidepressants
What is the treatment for Dry Eye?
For mild cases of Dry Eye, over the counter eye drops are a good choice. Make sure to purchase drops with no preservatives as these can aggravate eye irritation. You can also try taking Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements, as a lack of this nutrient can contribute to Dry Eye. There are prescription drugs for more severe cases as well as surgical options. Your eye care professional can discuss this with you after ruling out more common causes.
What can I do to prevent occasional Dry Eye?
- Remember to blink regularly. This may sound basic, but when reading or using a computer, many people stare for too long without blinking.
- Wear sunglasses when you are outside. Wrap around styles are particularly good to limit exposure to wind, irritants and the sun.
- Stay hydrated