Dry Eye – A Problem Any Person May Deal with Today

Imagine sitting and talking with friends. Suddenly, you notice you can see clearly, but it feels like your eyes aren’t adjusting when you move them. Something is off, but you can’t pinpoint what it is. You may be walking through the grocery store only to have your vision get incredibly blurry. You otherwise feel fine, but it’s hard to see. Both situations are terrifying. Should an ambulance be called, or will it clear in a few minutes? If no other symptoms are present, waiting a minute, blinking your eyes, and seeing if things are straightened out never hurts. If your vision improves somewhat, you may have dry eye. 

What is Dry Eye?

Many people suffer from dry eye disease today. The tears don’t provide enough moisture to lubricate the eyes. There are several reasons for this, but all lead to inflammation and eye surface damage. People who have this disease say it is uncomfortable. Their eyes burn or sting, and they notice these symptoms more in certain situations. For example, the problem may worsen when they are in an air-conditioned space or use the computer for several hours. Make an appointment with an eye doctor near me to learn whether you suffer from dry eye and what treatments are available. 

Symptoms of Dry Eye

In addition to burning and stinging, the eyes may be scratchy and sensitive to light. Going outside when it is sunny can be painful. Stringy mucus may appear around the eyes, and the eyes often turn red. People say it feels like something is in their eye or that their eyes water frequently. Wearing contact lenses might be difficult or impossible. Some men and women say it is hard to drive at night when they have dry eyes. Blurred vision and eye fatigue are other signs of this condition. 

When to See a Doctor for Dry Eye

Men and women often reach for eye drops when they have dry eye symptoms. While these drops may initially help, repeatedly using eye drops with preservatives can worsen the problem. It’s best to see an eye doctor and rule out other conditions. Once it has been determined that dry eye is the problem, the doctor can recommend one of several treatment options. 

What Causes Dry Eye?

Dry eyes can develop from many things. Anything that interferes with the healthy tear film can cause this condition. This film comprises mucus, aqueous fluid, and fatty oils. These three substances lubricate the eye while smoothing and clearing it. A problem in any one of these layers could make the eyes dry. 

Hormone changes may cause dry eye, and a person diagnosed with an autoimmune condition might develop this problem. Inflammation in the eyelid glands and allergic eye disease are other causes. However, for some people, increased tear evaporation or decreased tear production is to blame. 

Decreased Tear Production

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is when the eye no longer produces sufficient liquid tears. As a person ages, tear production may slow. Men and women with sarcoidosis, allergy eye disease, a vitamin A deficiency, or other medical conditions might find they cannot produce enough tears, and certain medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and high blood pressure medications, may lead to a decline in tear production. A person with corneal nerve insensitivity may also find they have dry eyes. 

Increased Tear Evaporation

Individuals with skin disorders like rosacea might find their meibomian glands become clogged. These glands produce an oil film that plays a role in human tears. This is known as posterior blepharitis. However, there are other causes of increased tear evaporation. 

When concentrating on a task, a person might not blink as often, leading to their tears evaporating and not being replaced. Men and women with certain medical conditions, like Parkinson’s disease, may blink less often. For some, a problem with the eyelids is causing their tears to evaporate rapidly. Eye allergies, wind, smoke, dry air, and a vitamin A deficiency may also contribute to this problem.

Who is Most at Risk of Developing Dry Eye?

Anybody may develop dry eye, but some people are at higher risk of this condition. Tear production declines as part of the natural aging process, so a person over 50 may suddenly have to deal with dry eye symptoms. Women are more likely to develop this condition, possibly due to hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy or when they take birth control pills. Menopause may come with symptoms of dry eye, as well. A vitamin A deficiency is seen in some people with dry eyes. Contact lens usage and refractive surgery have also been linked to developing dry eye symptoms. 

Complications of Dry Eye

Dry eyes may bring about complications. Men and women must watch for signs of an eye infection and seek treatment immediately, as tears help protect the eyes. They may find they can’t do everyday things, like reading, because their vision is blurred, and dry eyes put them at risk of corneal abrasions and ulcers, eye inflammation, and vision loss. 

Treating Dry Eye

Individually packaged artificial tears remain the first-line treatment for dry eyes. These vials don’t contain preservatives that can dry the eyes. Depending on the severity of the problem, mineral oil eye drops may also be recommended. Some people, however, need punctal plugs. The doctor places these plugs in the tear duct openings. The silicone plugs close the tiny openings in the corners of the eyes. The eye can then conserve both natural and artificial tears. 

A person might also need to treat the underlying condition contributing to dry eyes. Medications may be prescribed to treat the condition, including prescription-strength artificial tears, medications to reduce eyelid inflammation, or drugs to stimulate tear production. Light therapy and eyelid massage may help with tear production, or the doctor might unblock the oil glands. A patient may also need to wear special contact lenses that trap moisture on the eye’s surface. 

If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, call your doctor today and make an appointment. They can determine if dry eye is the issue or if another medical problem needs to be addressed. Managing dry eye is possible with the help of your eye doctor, so make this call today. 

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