Dry Eyes - Causes and Treatments
What is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eyes are a very prevalent and often unavoidable part of life. 40% of adults suffer from dry eye conditions of some sort, and women are more likely to experience dry eyes than men. In today’s world, we are subject to environments and working condition that strain our eyes immensely, from technology use, pollution and lack of sleep. These habits and conditions lead to dry eye syndrome, which is when your eyes do not produce enough tears to lubricate your eyes, or the tears are not of good quality.
What are Dry Eye Symptoms?
The most common symptoms of dry eyes are:
- Feeling of eyes being scratched
- Sensitivity to light
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
- Excessive tear production
- Burning sensation
What are Dry eyes causes?
- Age (50+) – As we age, the eyes slow down tear production naturally. Adults over 50 years of age will experience dry eyes more often than younger people.
- Poor blink rate or incomplete blinking – Blinking is crucial to keep the eyes lubricated and dirt free. Remember to blink when you're using electronic devices as we tend to blink less when staring at a screen.
- Smoking – Tobacco smoke is a severe eye irritant, and people who smoke are twice as likely to develop dry eyes.
- Contact Lenses – Wearing contact lenses for longer than the safe amount of time, or using dirty contact lenses, can cause dry eyes. Sleeping in contact lenses will also severely dry out your eyes and may cause infections.
- Daily habits and work environment – Working for long periods of time at a computer puts great strain on your eyes, causing less tear production and therefore dry eyes.
- Medications – Some side effects of certain medication are dry eyes.
- Menstrual Cycle, Menopause & Pregnancy – Changes in a woman’s hormone levels can lead to dry eye symptoms, especially the use of hormonal contraceptives.
- Excessive heat or A/C – Any air conditioning means air being pumped into your eyes, therefore drying them out. Avoid sitting directly under or in front of air conditioners.
- Eye makeup – Powder eye makeup has a tendency to fall into the eyes and cause irritation- try to use liquid based makeup instead.
- Allergies – Seasonal allergies also causes dry eyes- try out allergy medications to ease your irritation.
- Blepharitis – For more serious cases of dry eyes, you may want to consult your doctor to see if you have blepharitis- a lid disease as a result of infection. It is caused by a dysfunction of the eyelid’s oil glands, causing inflammation and discomfort.
- City Living– The denser amount of air pollutant particles in cities mean that urban dwellers are more likely to develop dry eye symptoms.
How to treat Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes can be seriously irritating. Here are easy steps on how to treat dry eyes:
- Take regular breaks from computer and technology use
- Use a humidifier at work and at home
- Increase daily water intake and reduce coffee drinking
- Quit smoking and avoid being around it
- Practice blinking more often
- Wear glasses on windy days to protect your eyes
- Wear polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation
- Make sure your contact lens wearing habits are safe and hygienic
- Eat a well-balanced diet of omega 3’s and a lot of Vitamin-A rich foods
- Lubricated eye drops
- Medicated eye drops
Less serious dry eye symptoms can be easily treated with these everyday alterations to your lifestyle. For more serious cases of dry eyes, or persistent dry eyes, you should consider consulting a ophthalmologist. Prolonging seeking medical attention can lead to your condition worsening and developing into infection or disease.