Do you experience red, stinging or burning eyes?
You know that feeling when you have stared at your computer screen too long, without so much as a blink? Well, these are some of the symptoms of dry eye syndrome. A pretty common eye condition among those 50 and above, but can also occur in really, anyone. And, needless to say in today’s digital age, more and more people are feeling the burn (so to speak) that comes with dry eye. Fear not! Read on to understand this eye condition, and how you can help alleviate your eyes (because you can and should see comfortably).
Dry eye syndrome occurs because the eye is simply not producing enough tears or the tears that are being produced are evaporating too quickly. The latter can be due to poor tear formation. Tears are not just produced when someone cries, your eye produces tears all the time. That’s right, as you are reading this, your eye is producing this magical liquid (which is much more than just H2O). Also, tears are not all the same! There are several different kinds, each with its own function. You can read more about the differing types here.
When it comes to dry eye syndrome, it’s all about a lack of adequate lubrication. Something the eyes need in order to function. Without tears, our eyes would essentially dry up! If you have dry eye syndrome it’s not something to take lightly either. This eye condition can cause more than temporary discomfort, it could lead to permanent vision loss if severe enough. Yikes! Good news, however in most cases it’s manageable. So, if you are a sufferer, knowing the causes, symptoms, and treatments can help you see more comfortably.
Tears are not just made up of water. The eye produces a concoction of water, oil, and proteins to help protect and lubricate the eye. Our eyes must produce enough oil, for example, in order for our tears to not simply just evaporate. A reason someone may have dry eye syndrome, is because this portion of the “concoction” just isn’t adequately being produced. There are a number of causes for dry eye syndrome, some of which include:
- too long of a time spent starring at say, a computer (remember to use the 20-20-20 rule)
- eye surgery
- certain medications
- environmental factors
- certain diseases
- vitamin deficiency
Knowing the exact root cause(s) is important in finding a solution. Your family eye doctor can help narrow down the reason for the eye condition through a comprehensive eye exam assessment and provide a treatment plan. Be sure to inform your optometrist of all the symptoms you have been experiencing. And, as an eye doctor, I must remind some of you to not self diagnose and treat yourself. Because a quick internet search cannot replace the professional experience and tests done at your family eye doctor’s clinic. Read on to learn about the associated symptoms below!
The symptoms of this eye condition include the following:
- stinging or burning sensation
- red eyes
- painful eyes
- episodes of blurry vision
- lenses may feel uncomfortable
- tasks that require visual attention are uncomfortable, like computer work
- it may feel like sand is in the eyes
- watery eyes
- eyes may feel fatigued
Dry eye syndrome is generally treatable. So, if you have it, you don’t have to live with the uncomfortable symptoms. Leaving it untreated, in rare cases could lead to vision loss, infections, or ulcers.
There are several treatment options for dry eye syndrome. However, your eye doctor will need to first determine the cause for the condition, in order to appropriately recommend a treatment plan. For example, if an underlining medical condition is the root cause for the dry eye syndrome, then the disease itself must be managed. Generally, the following options are available:
- Artificial tear drops
- Eye plugs
- Appropriate contact lens care
A lot of patients come into our clinic complaining of dry eyes. Now that you know, in most cases it is treatable, don’t delay paying a visit to your eye doctor! Also, remember the next time you shed a tear (weather it’s because your happy or sad), that little tear is a magical liquid that is constantly being produced, and used by our eyes.