Not A Dry Eye In The House

Dry eye is a disease affecting the eye’s tear film that prevents the eye from staying nourished and lubricated. The condition most often occurs when the eyes don’t produce enough liquid tears. Patients can also experience dry eye when eyes struggle to make the right type of tear film.

Tear trouble

Tears are more than just water. In fact, tear film consists of an oil, water, and mucus layer. Each serves a distinct purpose in keeping the eye moisturized. Oil sits on the outside of the film and prevents tears from drying too quickly. Water cleanses the eye, where the innermost mucus layer helps tears keep the eye moist.

Cause and effect

Dry eye is a common ailment individuals can experience in any circumstance. That said, the disease is most prevalent in older patients and women. Medical conditions just as diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and eyelid issues can also play a major role. Similarly, certain medications or staring at computer screens for long periods of time can also dry out the eye. Smoke, contact lenses, and prior surgeries can have the same effect.

A day in the life of a dry eye patient

People dealing with dry eye may experience burning, itching, redness, or the feeling something’s stuck in the eye. Other indicators include watery eyes, mucus near the eye, light sensitivity, or blurry vision. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the disease.

From annoyance to diagnosis

Having the above symptoms doesn’t always mean dry eye is present. Prolonged indications warrant a visit to an eye doctor to determine the root cause.

Test your luck

The ophthalmologist or optometrist can perform a comprehensive eye exam to understand a patient’s overall ocular health. Certain tests can take place that specifically target tear film. A Schirmer’s test checks whether or not the eye makes enough tears to stay moist. The physician can also look at the quality of tears and a thorough study of eyelids and conjunctiva.

Stop it before it starts

A humidifier, frequent blinking, or drinking lots of water can help eyes remain moist. In the same vein, using preservative-free artificial tears regularly even when the eyes feel fine can keep the surface well-lubricated. Eating certain fish can encourage oil gland function to promote healthy tear production. Stay away from smoke and blowing air directly into the eye, as these can cause dryness. Wearing sunglasses outdoors can reduce exposure to these harmful conditions.

Working from home

There are a number of treatment options for keeping dry eye in check. A number of these are home remedies. The healthcare specialist may recommend warm compresses to reopen clogged pores. Eyelid scrubs with baby shampoo clean crusty lashes and can reduce inflammation. Artificial tears are an option here as well to replace moisture lost by the disease.

Doctor’s orders

When home remedies don’t work, the doctor can prescribe eye drops to promote tear production or decrease inflammation. Special contact lenses can offer protection and trap moisture so the eye doesn’t dry out. Plugs can be placed in tear ducts to conserve tears that would otherwise drain out too quickly. A procedure called intense pulsed light therapy can reduce swelling and promote oil production.