Eye Spy: Investigating the Causes of Dry Eye and How to Prevent It
Is your eyesight feeling a little dry lately? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people worldwide experience dry eye, a condition that can cause discomfort, irritation, and even vision problems.
While there are many potential causes of dry eye, understanding them is crucial for prevention and management.
What Is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a condition in which your eyes do not produce enough tears, or the tears produced are of poor quality.
Tears are important for maintaining the health of your eyes and for providing clear vision. They lubricate the eyes, help to wash away debris and irritants, and contain enzymes that protect against infections.
Symptoms of dry eye can include:
- Itching or burning sensations in the eyes
- Redness or irritation of the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Feeling like there is something in your eye
- Excessive tearing (as a result of your eyes trying to compensate for dryness)
What Causes Dry Eye?
There are many factors that can contribute to dry eye, including:
- Age: As we get older, our bodies produce fewer tears, which can result in dry eye.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop dry eye due to hormonal changes that can affect tear production.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and thyroid disorders can lead to dry eye.
- Medications: Certain medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications can cause dry eye.
- Environmental factors: Exposure to smoke, wind, and dry air can contribute to dry eye.
- Digital device use: Spending too much time in front of a computer or other digital device can cause dry eye.
- Contact lenses: Wearing contact lenses for extended periods of time can lead to dry eye.
Drugs That May Cause Dry Eyes
Certain medications can contribute to the development of dry eye by reducing the production of tears or altering their composition. Here are some common drugs that may cause dry eyes:
- Antihistamines: These drugs, which are commonly used to treat allergies and colds, can dry out your nasal passages and your eyes.
- Decongestants: Decongestants can reduce redness and swelling in the eyes, but they can also make your eyes feel dry and irritated.
- Antidepressants: Some antidepressants, particularly those in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class, can cause dry eyes as a side effect.
- Birth control pills: Hormonal birth control can affect the production of tears, particularly in women who are prone to dry eye.
- Blood pressure medications: Certain blood pressure medications, such as beta-blockers and diuretics, can cause dry eyes as a side effect.
- Isotretinoin: This medication, which is used to treat severe acne, can cause a range of side effects, including dry eyes.
If you’re taking any of these medications and are experiencing symptoms of dry eye, talk to your healthcare provider about possible solutions. They may be able to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication that is less likely to cause dry eyes.
How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?
Dry eye can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition, but getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in finding relief. During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a series of tests to evaluate the function of your tears and meibomian glands.
These tests may include the Schirmer test, tear breakup time (TBUT) test, and meibomian gland evaluation. Additionally, imaging tests may be used to assess the structure and function of your tear film and meibomian glands.
By using these tests, your eye doctor can determine the severity of your dry eye and develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of dry eye, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and begin the process of managing your symptoms.
Dry Eye Prevention Tips
Keep your peepers in top shape with these easy dry eye prevention tips:
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Take regular breaks from computer and phone screens
- Do eye-strengthening exercises, like the “eye roll” or “double blink”
- Wear sunglasses on sunny days to protect your eyes from UV rays
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to dry indoor air
- Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
- Eat a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and C
- Blink frequently to keep your eyes moist
- Avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can worsen dryness and irritation
Dry Eye Treatment at Complete Eye Care
We offer a variety of effective treatments to help manage the symptoms of dry eye and improve the health of your eyes.
Depending on the severity of your condition and the underlying causes, your eye doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Artificial tears: These over-the-counter eye drops can help supplement your natural tear film and provide temporary relief from dryness and irritation.
- Prescription eye drops: In some cases, prescription eye drops may be necessary to help reduce inflammation, increase tear production, or improve the quality of your tears.
- Meibomian gland expression: This in-office procedure involves gently applying pressure to your eyelids to help express the oil from your meibomian glands, which can improve the quality of your tears and reduce dryness.
- LipiFlow: This non-invasive treatment uses a combination of heat and pressure to unclog and express the meibomian glands, which can help improve the health of your tear film and reduce dry eye symptoms.
- Punctal plugs: These small devices are inserted into the tear ducts to help prevent tears from draining too quickly, which can help keep your eyes moist and reduce dryness.
By working with your eye doctor to find the right combination of treatments for your specific needs, you can experience relief from dry eye symptoms and enjoy clear, comfortable vision.
Don’t let dry eye get in the way of your daily life. If you’re experiencing symptoms of dry eye or have questions about how to prevent it, schedule an appointment with Complete Eye Care today.