6 Reasons Why Your Eyes May be Dry
Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that can be attributed to many causes. Thankfully, there’s a wide range of preventative and curative treatments available for people suffering from dry eyes. Call us today to talk to an Optometrist and cure your dry eye syndrome.
1. Reduced Tear Production
Natural tear production tends to subside as people age. Generally, patients will begin to experience a reduction in tear production around age 40. Reduced tear production due to aging is most common in women due to hormonal changes from menopause which can reduce tear production. Diabetes, autoimmune diseases, radiation treatment, and vitamin A deficiency are also associated with lowered tear production.
2. Imbalanced Tear Production
Tears are composed of a mixture of mucus, oil, and water. When these three components of a tear are out of balance, patients may experience dry eye syndrome. Certain skin conditions such as rosacea and blepharitis can cause glands that emit the oil component of tears to become blocked, leading to dry eyes.
3. Eyelid Problems
Generally, when people blink, their eyelids will spread a thin, even layer of tears over the surface of the eyes. Certain conditions can affect the way we blink, leading to tears not being spread evenly over the eyes, contributing to dry eyes. We generally blink approximately five times per minute, and certain environmental factors can lead people to blink less often contributing to dry eyes.
4. Medication Interactions
There are many medications that can cause dry eyes as a side effect, either by affecting the balance of our tear mixture, the way we blink, or how often we blink. Medications which contribute to dry eyes include birth control, antidepressants, sleeping pills, opiate painkillers, acne drugs, diuretics, ACE inhibitors, antihistamines, and decongestants.
5. Environmental Factors
Most people’s dry eye syndrome is caused by a wide range of potential environmental factors that can affect the rate at which our tears evaporate or how often we blink. Being in places like airplanes or vehicles with dry, blowing air increases the tear evaporation rate and is a major contributor to dry eyes. Engaging in activities that lead to increased visual concentration
like working at a computer, driving, or reading slows down the rate which we blink, contributing to dry eye syndrome.
6. Contact Lenses
Contact lenses obstruct oxygen’s access to the surface of the eye, contributing to dry eye symptoms. Modern contact lenses are designed specifically to allow more oxygen to the surface of the eye, but symptoms may still be present, especially toward the end of the day.
How do I fix my dry eyes?
1. Make the most of your natural tears.
Conserving your eye’s naturally produced tears involves mitigating potential environmental factors that contribute to dry eyes, as well as eating foods or supplements that aid natural tear production. Avoiding smoky, dry or windy places, or wearing wraparound glasses to protect the eyes from heat and wind is an effective prevention for dry eyes. Keeping rooms more moist through the use of a humidifier helps decrease the rate at which tears evaporate, decreasing dry eye symptoms. Studies also show that consumption of foods or supplements high in omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids help reduce the incidence of dry eyes.
2. Resolve underlying causes of dry eyes.
When dry eyes are caused by conditions such as diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, or autoimmune diseases, the best way to cure dry eyes is to keep the underlying causal condition in check whenever possible. If dry eyes are caused by medication interactions, talk to the prescribing doctor to see if there are alternative medications that will not cause dry eye syndrome as a side effect.
3. Use the right contact lenses.
For contact lens wearers that experience dry eyes as a result of their contacts, the best way to mitigate dry eye symptoms is to simply switch the type of contacts worn. The best contact lens option for dry eye sufferers are daily disposable lenses that are thrown away at the end of each day, reducing the chance of dirt deposits that can cause discomfort. Silicone hydrogel contact lenses and low water contact lenses are also good options for dry eye sufferers. If your contacts are giving you dry eyes, contact us so we can get you in a more optimal lens.
4. Use artificial tears.
For dry eye sufferers with moderate symptoms, one of the most common treatments are over-the-counter artificial tear drops. Artificial tear drops work by simply moistening the eye to mitigate dry eye symptoms.
5. Use prescription medications.
There are a variety of prescription medications used for the treatment of dry eye syndrome, given either orally or as drops. Prescription medications for the treatment of dry eyes focus on reducing inflammation in the eyes as well as stimulating oil production in the glands around the eyes. If over-the counter medications, mitigating environmental factors, and eliminating underlying causes aren’t enough to fix your dry eyes, call us today to talk to an optometrist about prescription dry eye medication.
6. Reduce tear drainage.
In the most severe dry eye cases, surgery may become necessary for treatment of symptoms. In dry eye treatment surgeries, tear ducts are deliberately blocked to slow the rate at which tears drain from the eyes, keeping both natural and artificial tears in the eyes longer.