If you have dry eye syndrome, rest assured that you’re not alone. Dry eye is a condition that affects over 5 million Americans, and it’s on the rise as we age.
The good news is dry eye syndrome can be fixed and your eye doctor can help! Read on as an Arvada, CO optometrist discusses dry eye syndrome, what causes it, and available in-office treatment options.
What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye is a condition that can affect anyone, but it’s especially common in older adults. It’s caused by a lack of tears or blocked tear ducts, which means your eyes don’t get the moisture they need to stay healthy and comfortable.
Other causes of dry eye include:
- Allergic reactions or chronic inflammation
- Certain medications (such as antihistamines)
- Corneal aberrations (an irregularity in the shape of your cornea, which is the dome-shaped tissue that covers your iris and pupil)
- Environmental conditions (such as wind or temperature changes)
- Eye diseases or injuries that affect tear production, such as Sjogren’s syndrome and blepharitis
- Smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke can cause dryness in your eyes
Dry Eye Symptoms
If you think you might have dry eye, here are some symptoms to watch out for:
- Itchy eyes
- Blurred vision
- Burning or stinging sensation
- Dry, gritty, or sandy feeling in the eyes
- Dry eyes are often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
- Discharge from the eye
- Headache pain in the eyes or temples
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
- Difficulty focusing or reading Headaches
Dry eye syndrome is not just a nuisance. It can cause serious damage to your eyes if left untreated, including:
- Corneal ulcers (damage to the clear coat on the front of your eye)
- Styes (an infected hair follicle at the corner of your eyelid)
- Conjunctivitis (swelling or inflammation of the white part of your eye)
How an Optometrist Can Help
When it comes to managing dry eye, there are two paths you can take: one is to seek out in-office treatments with an eye doctor. The other is to try over-the-counter remedies, and the truth of the matter is over-the-counter remedies can actually make your symptoms worse.
With the in-office option, once an eye doctor determines what’s causing dry eye, he (or she) has a range of treatment options to work with, including:
- Lid scrubs — A lid scrub uses a small brush to gently remove any build-up of cells from your eyelids. This helps to improve the quality of your tears and may reduce symptoms of dry eye by keeping your eyelids moist.
- Tear film enhancement — This treatment uses a combination of medications and/or supplements to encourage better production and retention of tears in your eyes.
- Tear duct probing (dacryocystorhinostomy) — If a blockage prevents tears from draining properly through your tear ducts, it can cause symptoms similar to those caused by other forms of dry eye. In this procedure, a tiny incision is made in the inner corner of your nose to create a new pathway for drainage.
If you have more questions or wish to schedule an eye examination, please don’t hesitate to call our Arvada, CA optometry office today!