Vision problems arise in many ways, including dry eyes. Dry eyes can be discomforting and can affect your performance throughout the day and at night. Knowing the problem, its symptoms, and the common treatments available is key to diagnosis and finding a solution.
Although this article offers a guide to better understand dry eye symptoms and treatment, we recommend that you refer to Dry Eye Directory website for dry eye treatment from professionals.
What is Dry Eye?
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A dry eye happens when the eyes are unable to make enough tears to keep them wet. The problem also happens when the tear gland becomes abnormal, failing to produce tears when needed.
Dry eyes can make your eyes and vision uncomfortable. It can also cause vision problems when left unattended.
Seeing a medical professional when suffering from dry eyes is important, as they’re in the best position to assess and diagnose the problem. But before seeing a medical doctor, you must first understand the signs and symptoms of the problem.
What are the Symptoms of Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes can lead to common symptoms like;
- Redness of the eyes
- Eye scratches or a feeling of something lodged in the eyes
- Stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
What are the Risk Factors for Dry Eyes?
If you don’t already have a dry eye, knowing the common risk factors can help you prevent this medical occurrence. Some common risk factors include;
- Age. Dry eyes are common in older adults above 50 years old
- Gender. Dry eyes are more common in women than men
- Lifestyle. Dry eyes are common in people who wear contact lenses
- Vitamin Deficiency. Dry eye is common in people who are vitamin A deficient. This vitamin can be increased by consuming foods rich in broccoli, carrots, and liver. Vitamin A can also be sourced from Omega-3 fatty acid food sources like walnuts, fish, and vegetable oils.
- Genetics. A dry eye could also be a genetic symptom as common in people with autoimmune conditions like lupus.
How to Diagnose a Dry Eye Problem?
Medical professionals can diagnose dry eye problems by checking the tear duct to assess the amount of tears the eyes make and how long it takes the tears to dry up. They can also assess this problem by examining the eyelid structure.
How to Treat Dry Eye
Over-the-Counter Eye Drops
Over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears are the most basic and widely used treatment for dry eyes. They lubricate the eyes, provide temporary relief, and are available in various formulations, including preservative-free options.
Prescription Eye Drops
Prescription eye drops are recommended for individuals with persistent or severe dry eye symptoms. The eye drops contain medications like Cyclosporine and lifitegrast that reduce inflammation and promote tear production.
Some lifestyle modifications can help manage and prevent dry eyes. Recommended modifications include using a humidifier to prevent rapid moisture evaporation, taking regular breaks during visual tasks and blinking frequently, avoiding smoke and air pollutants, and wearing protective eyewear.
Tear duct plugs or punctal plugs are small, biocompatible devices that are inserted into the tear ducts to block the drainage of tears from the eye. The plugs help preserve the natural tears on the surface of the eye by blocking tears evaporation, thus increasing moisture and reducing dryness.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and flaxseed oil, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can potentially improve dry eye symptoms. Medical professionals often recommend incorporating these in the diet to help improve the production of tears from the tear gland. The vitamins and minerals can also help to reduce the discomfort associated with dry eyes.
In certain cases, oral medications such as tetracycline or doxycycline may be prescribed to manage underlying inflammatory conditions contributing to dry eyes. These medications can help reduce inflammation and increase tear production.
Extreme cases of dry eyes may warrant a surgical intervention from eye surgeons. Although this is an extreme treatment solution, it is important to note that it exists, especially for patients whose lower eyelids have become too loose, causing their tears to drain too quickly or dry up faster.
Patients diagnosed with loose lower eyelids may be recommended for surgery to fix the problem. The surgical intervention will help to reduce the dryness and keep the tears in place.
It’s important to note that surgical interventions are much less common among patients.
Patients dealing with dry eyes are recommended to see a medical professional as quickly as possible to assess and diagnose the problem. They are also advised to follow their treatment plan strictly to ensure improved chances of correcting the problem.