If you have chronically dry eyes, you’re not alone. An estimated 4.88 million people over age 50 live with this condition. It can have a variety of causes, which may take a while to narrow down and identify.
The good news is that if you have dry eyes, you may have options to get relief. In this blog, the providers at Bronx Eye Associates in Pelham Gardens, Bronx, New York, explain more about what causes dry eye and how you can remedy it.
The symptoms of dry eyes
Dry eyes have many symptoms in addition to just having dry eyes. These may include the following:
- Problems with driving at night
- Discomfort with wearing contact lenses
- Sensitivity to light
- Burning, stinging, or itching sensations
- Red or sore eyelids
- Mucus secretions from your eyes
- Eyes that are sometimes watery, alternating with being dry
Your eyes may also feel heavy and dry, especially when you’re working on a computer for long periods. You may also feel like it’s difficult to focus your eyes.
The causes of dry eye
Many things can cause chronically dry eyes. One of the most common is simply aging; our eyes get drier as we get older. The condition is much more common among adults over age 50. It’s also more common among women; women have dry eyes nearly twice as often as men do. This increased incidence is likely due to hormonal changes in women, as women are more likely to experience dry eyes when they’re pregnant, taking contraception, or in menopause.
Other things can cause dry eyes as well. These include:
- Medications, including for blood pressure, anxiety, and sleeping pills
- Wearing contact lenses
- Having a history of eye surgery, including LASIK
- Being in a dry or smoky environment
- Having allergies
- Autoimmune conditions, including Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis
The oil in your eyelids may also evaporate more quickly than normal. Several things can cause this condition, including being in windy or smoky environments, allergies, and doing tasks that require you to blink less often, such as heavy computer usage.
How your dry eyes are tested
When you schedule an appointment with one of the eye specialists at Bronx Eye Associates, they will perform several tests to examine the health of your eyes.
The eye doctor will first take a general health history to determine the state of your overall health, which may affect your eyes as well. They may also do other tests, which could include:
- Checking the exterior of your eyelids, including your tear ducts, your eyelids, and how you blink
- Checking the interior of your eye and your cornea
- Measuring the quality of your tears
When the eye doctor thoroughly examines your eyes, they can help to pursue the correct course of treatment for you.
What you can do for relief
You can do many things for relief of your eyes, depending on what’s determined to be their cause.
If your dry eyes are still only a mild condition, you may benefit from using artificial tears. You can use them up to four times per day.
If your dry eyes are more advanced, you may need to do something to ensure that your tear ducts don’t get blocked. You may benefit from increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help your body to produce more tears.
Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help your eyelids to become less inflamed and swollen. You can also use warm compresses or massage on your eyes to bring relief.
If you have chronically dry eyes, you should make a consultation for an examination. Contact the providers at Bronx Eye Associates or request an appointment online.