Have dry, itchy eyes? Do they burn or feel irritated for what seems like no reason at all? These are some of the symptoms associated with a chronic eye condition called dry eye syndrome.
You’re not alone if you have dry eyes either, because millions of people around the world suffer from this common condition. Here’s the good news: if you receive a diagnosis of dry eye syndrome, there are treatment options available!
Keep reading to find out the 411 on Dry Eye Awareness Month and to learn more about dry eyes!
What is making my eyes so dry?
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Common reasons that your eyes are dry include:
- Being in a dry or windy environment
- Spending a lot of time in front of computers or digital devices
- Medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, or rosacea
- Side effects from medications you’re taking like antihistamines, oral contraceptives, or antidepressants
Although these are factors that can contribute to dry eye symptoms, the reason your eyes are dry is usually because of one of two things. One, you aren’t producing enough tears. Two, the tears that you do produce are lower in quality and don’t provide enough nutrients when they lubricate the surface of the eye.
You may also have an issue with the tear film. The tear film in your eyes has three components: water, mucus, and oil. Healthy tears need all three components.
If you’re missing any of these components, your tears may evaporate from your eyes more quickly than they should, meaning they won’t cover the entire surface of the eye.
The only way to know if your tear film is not functioning as it should is to see your eye doctor, as it’s not something you can diagnose yourself.
Another reason that your eyes may be dry is if you wear contact lenses. Although contact lenses are a great form of vision correction, they can cause symptoms of dry eyes if you wear them on a regular basis. Reducing this can relieve dry eye symptoms.
If the idea of not wearing contacts and being stuck wearing glasses isn’t appealing, laser vision correction procedures like SMILE are a fantastic option to consider. With SMILE, you’ll no longer have to worry about dry eyes or wearing contact lenses. Instead, you’ll have freedom from visual aids and no more boundaries to hold you back!
Can I treat my dry eyes at home?
If your dry eye symptoms are only mild, there are a few things that you can do to treat them yourself. Try the following at home and at your workplace:
It can sound simple to add blinking into your schedule, but if you don’t blink enough, this is one key way that your eyes can dry out and become irritated. It’s especially important to make an effort to blink more if you spend several hours per day in front of a computer during your workday.
Blinking gives your eyes a break, but it also ensures that you aren’t hurting your blink rate. Your blink rate decreases significantly when you spend time in front of digital devices, so blinking more can help keep irritation at bay.
Use eye drops or artificial tears before your eyes feel dry
For people already struggling with the frustrating symptoms of dry eye syndrome, they may have eye drops or artificial tears on hand. But the key to using them and making sure they work is using them before your eyes feel dry, gritty, or fatigued.
A simple way to achieve this is to have them on you everywhere you go. Keep a bottle or two of eye drops at your desk at work, and buy some single-use vials that you can put in your favorite purses.
If it feels like you’ve been looking at a screen for several hours without a break, this is a good opportunity to take a minute and lubricate your eyes. Dry eyes that feel dry will only get drier, so avoid any feelings of discomfort and try to keep your eyes lubricated and hydrated throughout the day instead.
Incorporate more water into your day
Feeling thirsty? It’s not only a sign that your body needs more water, but your eyes are trying to tell you the same thing when they are dry. You may think that hydration is only about drinking more water, but you can actually stay hydrated with more water-based foods as well.
Think refreshing fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumber, bell peppers, peaches, broccoli, and pineapple if you need a few ideas! Eat more of these foods and drink more water, and your eyes will thank you!
When treating your dry eyes at home doesn’t do the trick
Some people find that making small lifestyle changes, drinking more water, and reduced screen time helps their dry eye symptoms. But others need professional help to treat their dry eyes.
Here at IQ Laser Vision, we offer several treatment options and procedures for treating dry eye syndrome. Before beginning any treatment, we will assess you to determine what the root cause of your symptoms is, as well as how severe your dry eye is. Your eye doctor may recommend one of the following:
Meibomian Gland Expression
If you aren’t producing enough tears, you may undergo meibomian gland expression. The meibomian glands are oil glands located on the eyelid that produce oil in the tears.
Expressing the glands won’t cause you any pain and use a special instrument to unblock them and drain the glands.
Oasis Punctal Plugs
Oasis punctal plugs come in both permanent and temporary forms and block your tear ducts. By blocking the tear ducts, it will help your eyes start to produce more tears. Both the permanent and temporary forms are reversible if necessary.
Have inflamed eyelids in addition to your dry, irritated eyes? You may be part of the 50% of dry eye patients who also have blepharitis.
Blepharitis is a condition that causes irritated, inflamed eyelids, as well as scales that form on the eyelashes. BlephEx is a treatment that removes extra biofilm, toxins, and bacteria that are on the eyelid and lashes. Having BlephEx treatments regularly helps patients get relief from symptoms of both blepharitis and dry eye syndrome.
Another treatment for dry eyes is MiBoFlo, which uses a proprietary thermoelectric heat pump and turns dried tears into liquid. This process improves meibomian gland function while also enhancing the rate at which tears evaporate from your eyes.
To help your tear glands work as they should, you may have a treatment called LipiFlow. With Lipiflow, thermal pulsation treats the meibomian glands, removing blockages from them. Unblocking the glands helps with tear function.
For the best results, your eye doctor may recommend several treatments, or a combination of treatments while making changes to your lifestyle.