If you’ve ever experienced a heavy feeling in your eyes, have found them to be excessively watery, or conversely deal with dryness and itching all day long, you might be ready to scream. Our eyes are incredibly sensitive, and even the slightest issue outside of the norm can cause a plethora of concerns. For individuals who experience any or all of the above symptoms, their diagnosis may end up being one they weren’t expecting - dry eyes.
Nearly 5 million American adults over the age of 50 experience dry eyes, and while this condition can be uncomfortable, the long-term effects can lead to vision issues, abrasions, and inflammation. Let’s learn more about what may cause dry eyes and how you can find relief.
Any time our bodies go through a major change, things can become a little unbalanced. Many people who experience dry eyes tend to find that their symptoms increase as they age, leading to more than 30% of people over the age of 50 with the condition. Hormonal shifts can also be to blame, so women who are pregnant or who are entering into menopause also find their symptoms are aggravated or occur for the first time during this period in their lives.
A variety of health conditions also play a major role in the development of dry eyes, including autoimmune diseases, vitamin A deficiency, allergies, and diabetes. Each of these issues affects your eyes in unique ways, but the one thing they all mirror is that your tear production becomes limited. This ends up being the root cause of the frustrating symptoms that people experience.
Think about the burst of hot air that comes out when you open a preheated oven and try to remember how that makes your eyes feel. This heat and dryness can damage your tear layer, so those who live in hot and dry climates tend to experience dry eyes more frequently than others. Air pollution also contributes to redness and irritation, two common symptoms of dry eyes.
Long-term contact lens wearers as well as those who have undergone LASIK also often note a feeling of dryness. While contacts are incredible tools that help you to see comfortably, they do interfere with your tear production and can lead to some lasting and undesirable results. Similarly, laser eye surgery may compromise a portion of the eye that regulates tear production.
Treating Dry Eyes
The symptoms associated with dry eyes could be attributed to a number of items in your medicine cabinet like antihistamines, acne medication, or blood pressure drugs, as well as the health issues outlined above. If you’ve noticed nagging and uncomfortable symptoms, what can you do?
Before implementing any sort of home treatment, always check with your eye doctor to obtain an accurate diagnosis of your concerns. If it’s been confirmed that you do suffer from dry eyes, you may find relief from the following options:
- Omega-3 fatty acids help to lessen symptoms. You can take a supplement or find this important compound in fish and nuts.
- OTC tears and prescriptions both work to lubricate your eyes and relieve dryness and itching.
- Special contacts called bandage lenses may work to hold moisture in and allow your eyes to heal.
- Hot/cold spa eye masks can help to soothe irritation from dry eyes. (Available at CCFS)
- Some opt for tear-duct plugs, special medical devices that help your eyes to retain the tears they make instead of draining them away.
- LipiFlow is the only FDA approved procedure for treating the root cause of Evaporative Dry Eye - blocked Meibomian glands. Opening and clearing these blocked glands can allow them to resume the natural production of lipids (oils) needed for healthy tear film.
You don’t have to live with dry eyes any longer! Think about what personal circumstances may be leading to your symptoms. Find out the causes and remedies for your dry eye issues. Call Carolinas Centers for Sight, P.C. today at 843-664-9393 to schedule a dry eye consultation.
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