Wintertime can take its toll on our eyes. The cold, arid temperatures can make our eyes scratchy, red and itchy. Millions of Americans suffer from dry eye syndrome, a health issue that can significantly reduce quality of life. People who have dry eye syndrome often experience challenges reading, using a computer and driving a car.
Dry eye can affect anyone at any age. About six percent of women under the age of 50 and 10 percent of women over the age of 75 are affected by dry eye syndrome. Ironically, the most common symptom of dry eye is excess tearing. How can eyes still feel dry when tears add additional moisture? Tears in response to irritation by dry eye are not like normal tears and do not soothe dryness. They are simply a reflex reaction (Source: Shorenews).
Causes of Dry Eye
There are several causes of dry eye including:
- Autoimmune disorders (such as Sjogren’s syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Grave’s Disease)
- Blepharitis (eyelid inflammation that causes redness and prevents the eye from producing a normal tear film)
- Eyelid problems (drooping of the lower eyelids causing increased exposure of the eye surface to the air)
- Lagophthalmos (inability to close the eye completely)
- Medications (antihistamines, antihypertensives and sedatives to name a few)
Impact of Dry Eye
Dry eye can have many negative side effects and significantly reduce quality of life. Chronic redness, irritation and blurring of the eyes can affect one’s self-confidence, independence and even financial status (Source: EyeTube). Studies from patients who suffer from dry eye syndrome report that their dry eye symptoms cause:
- Decreased leisure time
- Job changes
- Interference with work or missed work
- Lower self esteem
- Increased medical costs
- Lower productivity
Treatments for Dry Eye
If you have dry eye syndrome, there is no need to ignore your symptoms. Help is available. There are many possible treatment options for dry eye syndrome, and your eye care specialist can prescribe the best treatment for your individual eye needs. Usually, treatment is determined by the severity of symptoms. Mild cases of dry eye can be treated with artificial tears. For chronic dryness, your eye doctor may prescribe eye drops that increases the eye’s ability to produce natural tears. Prescription eye drops can be enhanced by omega-3 supplements and can alleviate symptoms of dry eye as well. Blocking the outflow of tears with punctal plugs to keep the tears on the surface of the eye longer is another option (Source: Shorenews).
Make an eye appointment to start getting relief from dry eye syndrome. What begins as just annoying redness can become a chronic condition if you do not seek medical assistance. Remember, dry eye syndrome is a legitimate health concern that can affect your overall wellness and quality of life, so get help today and experience relief!