Say Goodbye to Dry, Red Eyes
Oh the joys of Midwest winters...beautiful lights around the holidays, fresh snow to sled in with the kids, bundled up with blankets by a fire, and very dry air...oh how the air is dry! Our skin, hair, and eyes all suffer from it. Lotions and masks can usually help our skin and hair, but what can we do for our eyes? First, let’s review what dry eye syndrome is.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to nourish the eye. Tears are needed for the surface of the eye to stay healthy and provide clear vision. Dry eye is fairly common and can sometimes be a chronic issue.
A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation
Sensitivity to light
Feeling of something in your eye
Irritation when wearing contacts
Age - Dry Eye Syndrome is more common in older adults, but we are seeing it more often in younger people due to increased screen time.
Gender - Women are more likely to develop dry eyes, especially later in life due to hormone changes.
Medications - Certain medicines can reduce tear production, like anti-depressants, antihistamines, and some blood pressure medications.
Medical Conditions - People with arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid issues are more prone to dry eyes. Blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids, is often a cause of dry eye symptoms.
Environmental Conditions - Exposure to smoke, wind, and dry climates can trigger symptoms. Using a digital device for long periods of time can also contribute to symptoms by reducing the rate of our blinking.
Other - Eye surgeries (like LASIK) or the long term use of contacts can affect tear production.
There are many things to consider when seeking treatment for dry eyes. During a dry eye evaluation, your doctor will talk to you about factors that may trigger your symptoms, in addition to examining your eyes for an underlying condition. Some treatments are designed to reduce your symptoms and bring comfort to your eyes and others are targeting the cause of the symptoms.
Treat the Symptoms:
Artificial tears - Over-the-counter drops are widely used for those who have mild cases of dry eyes. These come in many different varieties, so follow your doctor’s recommendation on which artificial tear will work best for you.
Punctal plugs - These plug the tear ducts to keep more natural tears on the eyes longer.
E9 Eyelid & Skin Therapy - This is a new facial lotion we offer our patients who suffer from dry eyes and irritated eyelids. It includes ingredients like aloe, chamomile, and green tea to deeply hydrate and reduce the visible signs of aging around the eye.
Treat Underlying Cause:
Prescription medication: Some people may benefit from medicated drops, such as Restasis or Xiidra, to help improve tear production.
Blepharitis treatment: It is estimated that roughly 85% of people with dry eyes have a form of blepharitis called meibomian gland dysfunction. This happens when the oil glands in our eyelids don’t work properly. We cover this topic in more detail here and discuss the benefits of at-home heat treatments and special eyelid cleansers to manage this condition.
Omega 3 supplements: There is evidence that increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake may help soothe symptoms of blepharitis and dry eye. Because omega-3’s are naturally anti-inflammatory, some studies have shown that they can be useful in the fight against dry eyes.
In office treatments: Severe cases of dry eyes may require in office procedures, such as heat treatments to express the meibomian glands or a deep cleaning of the eyelids to treat blepharitis. These treatments can bring relief for several months and improve your quality of life.
20-20-20 rule: If you spend a lot of time looking at a screen during the day, this simple rule can help reduce eye fatigue and symptoms of dryness. For every 20 minutes you look at a screen, give your eyes a 20 second break by looking at least 20 feet away. Also, be more conscious of blinking while you work. The average blink rate is 10-15 times per minute, but screen work often reduces this rate by more than 50%!
Dry Eye Syndrome is not just a nuisance; it’s a treatable medical condition. Left unchecked, symptoms can get worse and lead to damage to the surface of the eye. As you can see there are many options to help with dry eye syndrome, and we know it can feel overwhelming. The good news is we can help you right here at Bright Eyes Family Vision! Call today to schedule your dry eye evaluation.