What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a common medical condition and is caused by a problem with the drainage, evaporation or production of tears. Tears are moved across the eye when you blink to lubricate the front surface of your eye, wash away debris, protect against infection and to help stabilize vision. Tears are made up of three main components: an outer lipid layer which prevents tears from evaporating and eyelids from sticking together, a middle watery layer which carries nutrients and oxygen, and an inner mucous layer which allows the tears to wet the cornea. Each layer is produced by different glands in and around the eyelids. It is possible to be diagnosed with dry eye even if you have very watery eyes; this can be due to a problem with one of the other layers of the tears. Dry eye can usually be easily managed.
What Are the Causes of Dry Eye?
Surprisingly, it is possible to be diagnosed with dry eye even if you have very watery eyes; this can be due to a problem with one of the other layers of the tears. Dry eye can be irritating and inconvenient, but is a very common condition in our society. Some of the most common causes for dry eye include:
- Environmental factors. Dry climates can accelerate the evaporation of tears causing dry eye symptoms.
- Computer Screens. If your work requires long times behind computer screens, you might not notice that you are blinking less, but you are. When you don’t blink at regular intervals you can cause chronic dry eye conditions.
- Miscellaneous Contributors. Long-term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.
- Advancing Age. Dry eye symptoms also come along with the natural aging process–especially the 65 and older crowd.
- Hormones. Hormonal changes linked with pregnancy, oral contraceptives and menopause make women more likely to develop dry eyes.
- Medications. Antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, all are known to reduce tear production.
- Side Effects of Medical Conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems often cause dry eyes as do conditions such as blepharitis can cause dry eyes to develop.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
Symptoms of dry eye may include your eye feeling irritated, with burning, grittiness of itching of the eye. Brief or intermittent blurring of vision, discomfort in bright light and red eyes may also be noticed. If you use contact lenses they may become increasingly uncomfortable to wear.
Treatment Options for Dry Eye
Your Optometrist will offer treatment advice. Failure to treat dry eye may result in complications such as damage to the cornea. We recommend that you have an eye test every two years, unless your Optometrist advises otherwise. Common treatments for dry eye include: the use of artificial tears or eye drops to increase tear-drop production, increasing the humidity in your environment, working to blink regularly, drinking adequate water, and treating medical conditions and eliminating medications that could be causing your symptoms.
Call for a Consultation
Don’t postpone treatment of your dry eye symptoms. Permanent damage to the cornea of your eye can occur if your eye doesn’t have the lubrication it needs. We are here to help you with your symptoms. Located at two convenient Denver locations–King Soopers Shopping Center off of South Monaco Parkway in Denver and at the Brentwood Shopping Center on Federal Boulevard–Optical Masters can offer you top-rate eye care services and help you with your eye health goals.