Causes of Dry Eye
People usually begin experiencing Dry Eye symptoms as they age, but the condition can also result from certain medications, conditions or injuries. Dry Eye tends to affect women more often than men, as the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy, menopause and from using oral contraceptives can affect the consistency of tears. It is also more common in people over the age of 50. Other causes may include:
- Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants
- Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, lupus, ocular rosacea, Sjogren’s syndrome or thyroid problems
- Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind and dry climates
- Long-term contact lens use
- Refractive surgery
Recent studies have shown that Dry Eye syndrome is more prevalent in larger cities, and higher among office computer users. It is estimated that 48% of adult Americans regularly experience Dry Eye symptoms, which includes difficulty in reading.
Our natural tears require a certain chemical balance in order to efficiently moisturize the eyes. Tears consist of three essential components, each produced by a different gland:
- The outer, oily lipid component – produced by meibomian glands in the eyelids
- The middle, watery, lacrimal component – produced by lacrimal glands located above the outer corner of the eyes
- The innermost component, consisting of mucous or mucin – produced by goblet cells in the conjunctiva
- Each component serves a critical purpose. Tear lipids, for example, prevent evaporation and increase lubrication, while mucins help anchor the tears to the ocular surface. A problem with any of those sources can result in tear instability, the frequency or consistency of tears, and dry eyes.
Based on the most recent research, contact lens wear can contribute to Dry Eyes. Dry Eye syndrome can make your contact lenses feel uncomfortable, and evaporation of moisture from contact lenses worsens the dry eye symptoms. At Brandon Cataract Center & Eye, we can recommend newer contact lens materials and lens care products to help reduce contact lens dryness.
Treatment for Dry Eye
Dry Eye is not only painful; it can also damage the eye’s tissues and impair vision. Fortunately, at Brandon Cataract Center & Eye Clinics, we have many treatment options available to help relieve symptoms and restore health back to your eyes to ensure clear vision and long-term health.
One of our specialists will recommend treatment depending on the cause and severity of your condition, as well as your overall health and personal preference. At Brandon Cataract Center & Eye Clinics, we have had success from non-surgical treatments such as blinking exercises, increasing humidity at home or work, and use of artificial tears or moisturizing ointment. Prescription eye drops are also available to increase tear production by helping your body reduce inflammation.
Treating the underlying cause of Dry Eyes can also help relieve the symptoms. If these methods don’t produce the desired results, we have other surgical options.
Preventing Dry Eye
There are certain steps you can take to prevent dry eye symptoms, which are especially useful for those at an increased risk. Simple life modifications such as keeping a humidifier at home or at work, wearing glasses on windy days, giving your eyes a break during reading or other strenuous tasks and avoiding smoking can all effectively reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.
We also sometimes recommend special nutritional supplements for Dry Eyes, as studies have found that supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can decrease Dry Eye symptoms, as well as flaxseed oil. Drinking more water can help, too, as mild dehydration often makes dry eye problems worse. This is especially true during hot, dry and windy weather.
If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with Dry Eye, let one of the specialists at Brandon Cataract Center & Eye Clinics give you a complete vision checkup for this common condition.