Eye Spy with My Dry Eye
Crying every once in a while is okay. In fact, for the benefit of your eyes, it’s encouraged! Crying is one of the many ways to prevent dry eyes. And while dry eyes are a common problem, there are a few solutions to prevent any damage in the future.
Dry eyes occur when your eyes do not produce enough tears. Low production of tears is known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, commonly referred to as dry eye syndrome. Tears are made up of water, oils and mucous and are required to keep your eyes moist, which in turn keep the eye surface smooth. Tears also wash away any foreign material and help protect your eyes from infection.
Why Dry Eye?
There are a few things that may cause dry eyes:
- Old age, including menopause
- Medical conditions such as thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, allergies and/or infections
- Certain medications
- Clogged glands, as a result of an imbalance in the components that make up the tears
- Injury, radiation, inflammation damage to the tear glands
- Allergies, year-round or seasonal
- Prolonged use of contact lenses
It may be the fact that you are staring at the computer for too long, or maybe you have allergies that pop up during the spring. Having dry eyes can be very uncomfortable, and while it may be something as simple as the wind blowing in your face, eye dryness can be irritating, resulting in a scratchy sensation in your eyes, light sensitivity, blurred vision and redness.
It’s also good to note that this problem does tend to become more of an issue as we age.
Having dry eyes is rarely serious, and it’s usually just a matter of restoring a normal amount of tears to regain ease and comfort. There are a few simple ways to treat this condition.
- Give your eyes a break. Our life is full of screens: tablets, televisions, iPads, cell phones, computers and e-readers. Every day we are inundated with the bright screens of technology and it’s good to take a break. Every once in a while look away from your screen and blink quickly for 30 seconds or so; this will help retain the moisture in your eyes.
- Eye Drops: There are a variety of brands available at your local pharmacy; no prescription required. Eye drops, or artificial tears, really help to keep your eyes moist, especially if you are about to sit in front of your computer, read for a long period of time, or travel. It’s an affordable, effective and easy solution to promote healing on the surface and lubricating the eyes.
- Warm Compress: When you’re at home, a quick solution is to close your eyes and press a warm, damp cloth to your eyelids.
- Avoid Cigarette Smoke: The smoke will irritate your eyes even more, so take precautions to keep away from those who smoke. If you smoke, it’s best to quit.
- Sunglasses: When you wear sunglasses outside, you protect your eyes from harsh sunlight, wind and other environmental factors. Sometimes these elements can lead to dry eyes and protection is the best form of prevention.
If your eyes are itchy and irritated for a long period of time, you experience decreased vision or pain, or blurred vision, it may be time to contact your doctor. Once the doctor has seen you, he or she may refer you to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, who will examine your eyes thoroughly to figure out the underlying issue and prescribe an eye drop or medication to relieve the pain.
When it comes to your eye health, it’s important to take preventative measures and keep looking forward!