Dry eyes: How to Deal With it?

Our eyes have a few sources of moisture – the lacrimal gland, a network of glands that produce water and mucus in the white surface of the eye, and glands that produce an oily substance at the edge of the lids. As we age, our tear production slows and any imbalance in the mixture of water, mucus and oil that make up the tear film on the surface of the eye, can result in dry eye syndrome. It is a common eye surface disease that causes visual disturbance and has a great impact on the quality of life.

Causes of Dry Eye

Some of the other factors that cause or contribute to dry eye include:

  1. Climatic conditions – such as dry air and wind
  2. Irritants – such as cigarette smoke, dust, or chemical exposure
  3. Medical conditions – such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid associated problems
  4. Menopause
  5. Medication – including oral contraceptives, antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics, and beta-blockers
  6. Any trauma to the eye (including burns)
  7. Infrequent or incomplete blinking
  8. Long periods of digital screen time
  9. Eye surgery – laser and Cataract surgery.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Every time you blink, you leave a thin film of tears over the surface of your eyes. This helps keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy. If your tears can’t adequately keep the surface of your eye moist, you will experience some or all of these symptoms:

  1. Irritation (a scratchy, stinging or burning sensation, particularly in the corners of the eyes)
  2. Occasional blurred vision
  3. Redness
  4. Excessive tearing that may cause a sensation of watery eyes
  5. Tired eyes (a feeling like you need to close the eyes)
  6. Mucus in or around the eyes, particularly upon waking
  7. A feeling of grittiness, or the sensation of something foreign in the eye (like an eyelash or a grain of sand).

Diagnosis of Dry Eye

Dry eye is diagnosed through tests, including:

  1. Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy – examination of the eye surface under a specially designed microscope, a slit lamp biomicroscope.
  2. Fluorescein Eye Stain Test – putting a drop of sodium fluorescein (a yellow dye) into the eyes to evaluate the tear film and examine the surface health of the eye.
  3. Schirmer’s Test – strips of filter paper placed between the lower lid and eye to determine if the tear glands produce enough tear to keep the eyes moist.

Tips for Treating Dry Eye

There is no cure for dry eye, but the condition can be successfully managed. Before you turn to constant use of artificial tears and other means to relieve dry eyes, try to improve your eyes’ ability to keep themselves moist. Here are some tips for treating dry eyes:

  1. Buy a humidifier and use it whenever you turn on the heater or air-conditioner in your home.
  2. Avoid sun, smog, ozone, fumes, and perfumes.
  3. Don’t use products that contain aspartame (artificial sweetener).
  4. Wear wraparound sunglasses outside to keep tears from evaporating.
  5. Soft contacts can cause dry eyes, so keep glasses around to when your eyes feel uncomfortable.
  6. Try to blink more.
  7. If you work at a computer, arrange your workspace so that you are looking slightly downward at the screen, lids lowered.
  8. Wear scleral contact lens.
  9. Don’t wear a lot of eye makeup
  10. Check to be sure your glasses aren’t pulling your eyelids away from your eyes.
  11. Eat more fruit, vegetables, walnuts, and cold-water fish.
  12. Consume 1,000 to 2,000 mg of vitamin C, Evening Primrose oil capsules (500 to 1,500mg per day), and 50 mg of B-6 can also help relieve eye dryness.

Now that you know the causes, what signs to look for and understand how to tackle them, you can tailor your lifestyle to address dry eyes. Incorporating these simple tips can have an incredible impact on your eyes, whether you have regularly dry eyes or you are dealing with seasonal dryness. Give us a call to learn more about dry eyes or any other vision problems or make an appointment for an eye test with an optometrist at a MAGRABi stores near you.

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