Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem that occurs when there are insufficient or poor-quality tears to lubricate the eyes. Many surveys suggest as many as 48% of adult Americans experience dry eye symptoms.
Tears are necessary for healthy eyes because they provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection by providing helpful enzymes, wash out foreign particles in the eye and also keep the eye surface clear which helps maintain good eye care.
Symptoms may include scratchy, irritated and burning eyes, a feeling of something in the eye, excess watering and even blurred vision.
There are many causes of dry eyes including:
1) Age. Tear production diminishes with age. Most people over 65 experience some symptoms of dry eye.
2) Gender. Woman are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes.
3) Medications. Certain medicines such as antihistamines and decongestants may reduce the amount of tears produced by the eyes.
4) Environment. Exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation. Cities with high levels of air pollution tend to have an increased risk of dry eye syndrome. Staring at the computer screen for long periods of time can also dry the eyes.
5) Contact lenses. Long-term use of contacts can be a factor in the development of dry eyes.
With numerous causes of dry eye come a variety of treatments.
1) Artificial tear solutions, or even prescription eye drops, can be used to supplement natural tear production. Restasis (Allergan) can help the body produce more tears by reducing inflammation. Eye drops that promise to reduce redness, however, may not be effective at lubricating your eyes. Rewetting drops may be sufficient for mild dryness from contact lenses.
2) Lipiflow is a procedure that clears blocked meibomian glands. Blocked meibomian glands are considered a primary contributor to most cases of dry eye.
3) Punctal plugs can be used to keep tears in the eye from draining too quickly.
To reduce the symptoms of dry eye, be sure to blink regularly when staring at a computer screen, increase humidity levels at home or at work, wear sunglasses with wrap around frame design to reduce exposure to drying winds, increase consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish, and keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day. Contact lens wearers might consider different lenses or wear them less frequently.
To find out more about treatment for dry eye, such as Lipiflow, please contact our eye care specialists at 877-871-1684.
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