Combating Dry Eye Syndrome
Do you experience itchy, burning, or dry eyes? You may be suffering from dry eye syndrome. Tears are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision, when there is insufficient moisture on the surface of the eye it can cause discomfort. Let’s looks at some common causes of dry eye syndrome, symptoms, and risk factors.
What are the causes of dry eye syndrome?
Tears keep the eyes surfaces moist and wash away dust, debris, and other microorganisms. Without constant, adequate moisture, dry eye will occur. Not enough oil in the tears causes them to evaporate too quickly, and without sufficient water production, eyes cannot maintain proper moisture.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome:
- Scratchy or gritty feeling
- Red eyes
- Irritation from windy conditions
- Sensitivity to light
- Fatigued eyes
- Problems with contacts
- Excessive tearing
- Heavy eyes
- Sore eyes
Contact lenses and dry eyes
One of the most common complaints from contact lens wearers is their contacts make their eyes feel dry. If you experience dry eye symptoms while wearing your contacts or immediately after removing your contacts, talk with your eye doctor, as it is irregular to feel discomfort.
If discomfort occurs, it is possible you are using the incorrect solution with your contact lenses; not all solutions are made equally. Your eye doctor may also recommend you use eye drops to help temporarily relieve dry eye symptoms.
Another means to relieve symptoms is to change your contact lens type to a more breathable or moisture-focused lens, which is specially made to help retain moisture. You may also want to discuss with your eye doctor the option to switch from reusable contact lenses to single-use lenses. Single-use lenses will help prevent your lens from drying out and work to maintain moisture in your eyes.
Factors that Increase Risk of Dry Eyes
Dry eye symptoms stem from multiple risk factors, including health conditions, environments, and eyewear choice. If you are suffering from dry eye try some of the tips below to help reduce your symptoms.
- Computer use. Humans blink less frequently when working at computers, allowing for more evaporated tears. When working on a computer for an extended period of time, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a rest.
- Contact lens. Dry eye discomfort is a primary reason for wearers to stop using contacts. Use rewetting drops daily or talk with your eye doctor about contact lens types that work best for your eyes.
- Indoor environment. Air conditioning, fans, and air heating systems can decrease the humidity indoors and cause symptoms of dry eye. Try using a humidifier in your house if you notice the air getting dryer.
- Outdoor environment. If you are outdoors in dry or windy conditions, wear a pair of sunglasses or hat to reduce your exposure to the elements which can cause dry eyes.
- Smoking. Can cause eyes to dry over time and is the root of various other eye problems.
- Aging. Dry eye syndrome is more common after the age of 50.
- Menopause. Women who have completed menopause are at a greater risk for dry eye than men the same age.
- Health conditions. Certain diseases have a higher risk of contributing to dry eye- such as diabetes or thyroid diseases.
- Medications. Prescription and nonprescription medications can have dry eye as a side effect.
Glaucoma: The Silent Thief of Sight
Did you know, nearly 2.2 million people in the United States are affected by glaucoma?* Due to the lack of symptoms in the early stages of glaucoma, almost half of Americans with glaucoma do not know they have it; causing glaucoma to be the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and worldwide.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve in the eye and, if left untreated, can result in blindness. High pressure within the eye causes damage to the optic nerve and prevents the nerve from sending messages from the eye to the brain.
Typically, there are no symptoms or pain associated with glaucoma until severe vision loss has occurred; at which point vision loss is permanent and cannot be reversed. The degree of vision loss differs from each individual.
- Most often has no symptoms
- Damage starts in peripheral vision
- Blurred vision
- Distorted vision
- Vision loss
Who is at risk?
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, African Americans are three times more likely to be affected by glaucoma, and six times more likely to suffer from blindness as a result of glaucoma. Hispanics and Latinos have the second highest risk for glaucoma. Those with a family history of glaucoma and diabetes are also at a higher risk. In order to help with early detection and to prevent irreversible vision loss, be sure to notify your eye doctor if glaucoma runs in your family or if you have diabetes.
Primary Types of Glaucoma
- Primary open-angle glaucoma: Primary open-angle glaucoma causes peripheral vision to gradually reduce without any other symptoms. If not controlled or discovered, it can progress to tunnel vision and ultimately lead to blindness.
- Acute angle-closure glaucoma: Acute angle-closure glaucoma, also called narrow-angle glaucoma, produces a variety of sudden symptoms such as eye pain, headache, halos, dilated pupils, vision loss, nausea, and vomiting. Each onset of new symptoms causes additional vision loss.
- Normal tension glaucoma: Normal tension glaucoma occurs in patients with a normal pressure within their eye and typically has no symptoms associated until tunnel vision occurs.
*Glaucoma Research Foundation
An overview and explanation of common eye symptoms.
Whether you or someone you know is suffering from a common eye-related condition, we know that you want the facts! Here are some of the most common questions and eye-related disorders we see in our office every day. If you are experiencing any of these eye symptoms or have questions about your eye health, give us a call to schedule your next appointment today.
Why are my eyes red?
Red or bloodshot eyes are a common problem caused by swollen or dilated blood vessels on the outer surface of the eye. Sometimes red eyes bother people because they are in pain, but that’s not always the case.
Potential causes of red eye include:
- Pink eye
- Eye trauma
Why are my eyes itching?
Itchy eyes are one of the most common eye-related condition that patients experience. When an allergen (irritating substance) enters the eyes, your immune system responds with a natural defense mechanism by releasing a chemical causing the itching sensation.
Potential causes of itchy eyes include:
- Prolonged use of digital devices
- Contact lens usage
How do I reduce my symptoms of itchy eyes?
To reduce your allergy symptoms try using eye drops to help lubricate your eyes. While rubbing can provide temporary relief it puts you at risk for damaging your cornea or adding even more allergens and bacteria into your eye.
Why are my eyes puffy?
Swelling around the eyes is due to excessive fluids in the skin tissue. As this fatty tissue gains fluid it begins to push forward and “bags” form under the eye.
Excessive fluid and puffy eyes can be caused by:
- Sinus problems
- Overconsumption of salt
- Fatigue or lack of sleep
What is causing my burning, itchy eyes?
The sensation of burning eyes can be caused by a variety of everyday environments. For example, exposure to products such as makeup, facial cleansers, or shampoo may cause burning or itchy symptoms. Other factors like allergies, wind, and environmental irritants can also cause burning in your eyes. Keep track of what surroundings or products are causing these symptoms and try to reduce your exposure. If you live in a high wind or sandy environment, try wearing a pair of wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from the elements when outdoors.
I’m seeing spots and floaters, why?
Spots and floaters are a shadow in your vision caused by bits of protein and tissue in the gel-like matter in your eyes. It is normal to occasionally see spots or floaters in your vision and will become more common with age as the gel-like material in your eye begins to dissolve and liquefy.
I am experiencing eye pain, what should I do?
If you are experiencing prolonged eye pain or have a foreign object enter your eye, call our office immediately. It is important not to rub your eyes or try to remove the object yourself as this may irritate your eye further.
Describing Your Symptoms
Being able to describe the type of pain you are experiencing will help your eye doctor diagnose the problem. For example, pain behind the eye can be attributed to migraines or sinus infections.
Use descriptor from the list below to help describe the pain to your eye doctor.
- sharp or dull
- internal or external
- constant or inconsistent
- stabbing or throbbing