Dry eye is a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears, or the tears that are produced are not of the right consistency to lubricate the eyes properly. The tears are essential to keep the eyes moisturized, comfortable and protected, and without them, the eyes can feel dry, itchy, and irritated. Dry eye can be a chronic condition and can lead to damage to the surface of the eye if left untreated.
There are several causes of dry eye, including:
- Computer use: Prolonged screen time can cause eye strain and dryness
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as Sjogren's syndrome and autoimmune disorders, can affect tear production
- Medications: Certain medications, such as antihistamines and blood pressure medications, can reduce tear production
- Environmental factors: Living in a dry, windy or polluted environments can dry out the eyes
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes such as menopause can decrease tear production
- Age: As we get older, we tend to produce fewer tears
Symptoms of dry eye include:
- Gritty sensation
- Blurred vision
Diagnosis of dry eye can be done by one of our optometrists through a comprehensive eye exam which includes examination of the eyes and eyelids, as well as measuring the amount and quality of the tears. Additional testing can also be performed to dig deeper into the root cause and severity of the condition.
Lifestyle changes can help to reduce the symptoms of dry eye. These include:
- Blink frequently when using a computer or other electronic devices
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
- Wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from wind and sun
- Try to avoid smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- Use of an approved preservative-free artificial tear daily
It is important to note that dry eye can be a chronic condition, and regular eye exams are necessary to monitor the condition and adjust treatment as needed.