What are the symptoms of Dry Eyes?
- Stinging / burning sensation
- Blurred vision
- Gritty sensation
- Stringy mucous discharge
- Tired eyes
Causes of Dry Eyes
Dry eyes are a part of the natural aging process. As we age, production of tears may get less.
Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes, the use of oral contraceptives and menopause.
Pre-existing medical conditions
Patients with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Conditions such as inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.
Certain medicines such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants may reduce tear production.
Exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates or air conditioned environments can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to dry eyes.
Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes. Long-term use of contact lenses may also dry eyes.
What treatment options are available?
Make changes to your living environment
Firstly, it’s important to avoid dry, drafty, smoky and dusty environments. This includes avoiding hair dryers, heaters, air conditioners or fans, especially when these devices are directed toward the eyes. Use a humidifier to maintain moisture in a dry indoor environment.
Rehydrate your eyes
Applying artificial tears every few hours can provide temporary relief. Contact lens users need to check that the eyes drops are safe with contact lens use. Lubricating ointments can be used during bedtime. It helps to retain moisture and give a longer relief than artificial tears. However, patients may experience temporary blurring of vision after application, and it should never be used with contact lenses.
Use of medication
Inflammation occurring in response to tears film hypertonicity can be suppressed by mild topical steroids or with topical immunosuppressants such as cyclosporin or tacrolimus.
Inserting punctal plug to conserve tears
Punctal plugs are inserted into the puncta to block tear drainage. This helps to alleviate dry eyes by retaining tears in the eyes.