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Winter Is Coming

Dry eyes are a common complaint here at the office, but symptoms may get worse for some people during the winter. It’s all fun and games until winter lasts past Christmas! Dry heat indoors and Midwestern winds outdoors make for one unsympathetic combination when it comes to our skin, hair, and even eyes. This month we’ll dive into what dry eye syndrome entails and treatment options available.




Dry Eye Syndrome


Dry eye syndrome occurs when your tears don’t provide quality lubrication for your eyes. Healthy tear production provides lubrication, reduces the risk of eye infection, washes away foreign matter in the eye, and keeps the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. When your eyes don’t produce enough tears or there is a tear layer imbalance, you may experience stinging, eye redness, foreign body sensation, and blurred vision.


Causes


While dry eye syndrome is more common in older adults, people may experience it at younger ages due to increased screen time. The frequent use of digital devices decreases our blink rate which in turn reduces our tear quality and increases symptoms of dryness. Women are more likely to experience dry eyes symptoms due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy and menopause. Seasonal changes such as exposure to the wind or dry air during the winter can also exacerbate symptoms.


Other contributors to dry eye syndrome include:

  • Medical conditions such as allergies, arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid issues

  • Blepharitis, which is an inflammation of the eyelids

  • Medications such as antihistamines, nasal decongestants, birth control pills, and antidepressants

  • LASIK eye surgery

  • Long-term contact lens wear


Treatment


A dry eye evaluation will explore factors that may trigger your dry eye symptoms and any underlying conditions. Treatment options will depend on the cause of your dry eye.


Your doctor may suggest some of the following:

  • Dry eye relief mask, or DERM mask, is a heat compress for mild symptoms. Pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds and then apply it to closed eyelids for quick relief.

  • HydroEye supplements provide the necessary nutrients for healthy tear production.

  • Medications like Xiidra, Restasis, and Cequa, are prescription drops formulated to reduce inflammation and improve your tear production.

  • Eyelid cleansers, like Ocusoft, are lid scrubs that gently remove oils and debris

  • Use humidifiers at home or sleep with an eye mask during the winter months



While dry eye syndrome is common, if it is left untreated, symptoms can worsen and lead to damage to the surface of the eye. Luckily, there are a plethora of treatment options and we're here to help you find the best option for you! If you’re experiencing symptoms of burning, gritty sensation, redness, or eye fatigue, give us a call today. You might be only an office visit away from getting some relief!


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