A diagnosis of dry eyes means that your eyes are no longer able to produce enough tears to stay moisturized or are producing poor quality tears. Almost everyone suffers from dry eyes at one point or another, but frequent instances of dry eye can be a sign of a more permanent condition called dry eye syndrome. According to the American Association of Ophthalmology, approximately 3.2 million women and 1.7 million men over the age of 50 suffer from chronic dry eyes. There are many symptoms and causes of dry eye. The good news is that there are also many ways to treat it.
Common Causes of Dry Eye:
- Aging – especially in post-menopausal women due to hormonal changes
- Medications like antihistamines, birth control pills, antidepressants, some blood pressure medications and diuretics
- Central heating/air or other environmental factors such as allergies
- Long-term contact use
- Computer Vision Syndrome or temporary overexposure to a computer or TV screen
Symptoms of Dry Eye:
- A burning, stinging or grainy sensation
- Persistent discharge
- Excessive tearing
- Irritation related to contact-lens use
How to Treat Dry Eye:
- Eliminate as many household allergens as you can.
- Turn off ceiling fans when possible.
- Run a humidifier to put moisture back into the air.
- Lay a warm, damp washcloth across your eyelids for a couple minutes.
- Add more omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil supplements to your diet.
- Use lubricating or rewetting eye drops.
- Ask your doctor about punctal plugs, which block tears from draining from the eye.
Without proper treatment, chronic dry eye could lead to infection or vision loss, so visit your eye doctor to find the best way to treat your specific situation.