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Dry Eyes: Causes, Treatment and Management

Updated on April 26, 2016

What Is Dry Eyes Syndrome

When you have dry, itchy, red, burning eyes or sometimes you have blurred vision and excessive tears that roll down on your cheeks, this type of eye condition can make you feel uncomfortable so you need to take some measure to control these symptoms.

How do you know if this is just simple irritation or a sign of an eye problem?

When tears are just not sufficient to nourish and lubricate the eyes or when tears are not of the right consistency, any imbalance in the tear system may lead to dry eyes.
For most people, it can be very irritating because it affects not only their vision, they may also experience any the following symptoms:

  • Itching or burning sensation
  • excessive watering
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • a feeling that a foreign object is in the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • gritty or scratchy feeling

Although this condition is common, it is very evident among older adults. Tears keep the eyes moist and it also aids in washing away dust and dirt on your eyes, it is made up of three layers - mucus, water and oil. Mucus is responsible for spreading tears evenly over the eye surface, water washes away dust and other foreign particles on your eyes, while oil helps the surface of the eye becomes smooth and it also prevents the water layer on the eye to evaporate quickly. Therefore any imbalance in the composition of tears can lead to dry eyes.

What Are The Causes of Dry Eyes

The most common cause of having dry eyes aside from the natural aging process, is the lack of adequate tears, as mentioned earlier, any imbalance in the composition of tears may result to dry eyes. However, there are other factors and reason that can lead to developing dry eyes:

  • Side effects of taking some medications like antihistamines, birth control pills and anti-depressant
  • After a retractive surgery known as LASIK or other similar types of surgery can cause a decreased in tear production
  • Immune system disorder
  • Allergens and other environmental conditions
  • Gland damages
  • chemical and thermal burns that scars the membrane lining, eyelids and eye
  • Medical condition including vitamin A deficiency, thyroid disorders, Sjorgren’s syndrome, scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes can cause dry eyes as well

Source

Although considered as a common eye condition, dry eyes can be a chronic condition and it may tend to negatively affect your vision in the long run. Proper vision is normally impaired when there is not enough tears to lubricate the eyes. Or when water evaporates quickly and there is not enough water to wash away dirt and dust on the eyes' surface, it can be very damaging.

This irritating eye condition may affect anyone, however, aging individuals, women and individuals with certain health conditions have high risk of developing dry eyes. Although there is no known cure yet for this condition, there are ways to treat and manage it. There are numerous ways you can choose from in order to relieve the symptoms. Depending on the underlying cause of dry eyes, then your eye doctor may suggest various approach. It is important that you discuss treatment options with an eye care specialist before proceeding.

If your dry eyes syndrome is a result of taking medication, then your physician may require you to switch to a new one. Or if it is due to your contact lens, you may be asked to lessen the number of hours that you wear you lenses or your eye doctor may be recommending another type of lens.

Treatment for Dry Eyes

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Essential Information About Dry Eyes

As discussed earlier, dry eyes is caused by insufficient production of the layers of tears, however, a recent finding showed that air pollution can also be a possible cause of dry eyes, although there is no concrete proof to indicate a definite cause-and-effect that will link dry eyes with air pollution, however, factors that adds up to air pollution like decreased humid level and increase ozone levels act as a trigger.

Regardless of the cause, it is important to know if you have dry eyes syndrome because it can hinder you from seeing clearly. The symptoms can be a good indication that you have this type of eye problem, so once you experience any abnormalities in your tears and the symptoms persists, consult an eye professional and seek immediate medical attention so you can get accurate diagnosis and avoid any additional and permanent damage.

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flaxseed
flaxseed
flaxseed

Natural Remedies for Dry Eyes

Dry eyes normally bring discomfort and not vision loss, however, the case may be severe. It is an incurable illness if left untreated and may bring more damage. Aside from the discomfort and irritation, it may also affect the quality of your life.

Dry eyes can bring big changes over time, first you will have blurry vision which can hinder most of your daily task like reading, writing, cooking, working and doing other household chores. It would be more worrying if this problem starts affecting your vision when you are driving. Eventually, this condition can lead to a total loss of vision.

If you experience episodes of excess tears or inability to cry, sensitivity to light or scratchy feeling in your eyes, you may try opting for natural remedies first:

  • If contact lens causes the problem, consider changing to another type of lens.
  • Wear glasses to help slow down tear evaporation
  • Allow eyes to rest, especially when you have staring at the screen of your computer or any gadget.
  • Prevent direct exposure to air (e.g. airconditioner or car heater)
  • Use humidifier to moisten the air in your room
  • Use warm compress on your eyes to help release oil producing glands in your eyelids
  • Nutritional supplement like flax seed and oil, fatty fish and fish oil supplement to help promote eye health

Treating Dry Eyes with Nutrition

Dry Eyes Treatment Options

If after trying the natural remedies and the symptoms still persist, you should immediately see a retinal specialist or ophthalmologist so they can conduct a more comprehensive eye exam to see which treatment fits you best.

Depending on your case or the severity of your dry eyes, there are several treatment available. It can be managed as an ongoing condition. There are various approach to manage each symptoms:

  1. Artificial tears, gels and ointments – These are common treatment for dry eyes and are mostly available over the counter. It can be used once or twice a day. In some cases, doctors may prescribe a preservative-free brand to avoid any adverse eye reaction to preservatives.
  2. Lacrimal or Punctal Plugs –These are used to slow down tear loss by blocking the drainage holes in the corners of the eyes. They are made up of silicone or collagen, this is a temporary treatment, but permanent plugs maybe considered as treatment for severe cases.
  3. Medication – Some of the medication prescribed for dry eye syndrome are Restasis, Cyclosporine, corticosteroids, oral tetracycline, and doxycycline.
  4. Surgery – When treatments don’t work, severe dry eye syndrome can be addressed through surgery called punctal surgery which it is done to permanently plug the inner corners of the eye to maintain sufficient amount of tears.

Source
Cigarette
Cigarette | Source

Risk Factors: Practices That Can Harm the Eyes

We have always been discussing how to take care of our eyes in order to preserve our vision and help us continue with our daily tasks, however, there are things we kept on doing that are not good for the eyes. You may be surprised to learn that some lifestyle habits are factors that increase the risk of developing eye related problems.

  1. Eyeball Jewelry. Yes, you heard it right, there’s a trend that was popularized in Europe and has now reached American shores. Imaging placing a shining piece of jewelry inside your eyeball. But it is literally what it is, the eyes are very sensitive, remember that tears are meant to aid in cleansing the outer surface of the eyes against dust and debris. In addition, the safety of this procedure has yet to be proven or backed up with sufficient evidence so there is a possibility that you may end up with severe ocular infection, conjunctivitis, and other undesirable eye conditions.
  2. Staring too long on your computer, cellphones, gadget and TV. At this age and time, even kids have their own cell phones, iPad and tablets. Spending some time on these items to play games, work and watch your favorite movie is a good way to spend leisure and quality time with the family. However, doing these activities for too long may strain your eyes and may lead to problems.
  3. Cigarette Smoking. You may not notice it but the smoke that comes out of your cigarettle can be harmful when it comes in direct contact with your eyes.
  4. Not getting enough sleep.Getting enough sleep is generally good for the whole body, but having inadequate sleep can cause blurry vision and may increase the chance of developing eye problems in the future.
  5. Alcohol drinking. Drinking alcohol moderately is fine, but anything excessive can cause problem. Too much alcohol is a risk factor for developing cataracts.

Source: Arizona Retinal Specialist
Source: Arizona Retinal Specialist

Awareness and early detection are the key to help us make the most out of our vision, we need to take care of our eyes which is essential in helping us take care of our loved ones as well.

Make sure to pay a visit to an eye specialist, people normally goes to the doctor when they are already having issues with their vision. Consulting them sooner than later will make a large difference in choosing the treatment method. Be prepared to ask questions about the symptoms you are experiencing so that your doctor will be able to address all issues concerning your eyes.

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