Dealing with scratchy and uncomfortable dry eyes this winter? You are not alone! The colder months can exacerbate dry eye, but millions of Americans suffer from this condition year-round. The good news is that there is a wide variety of treatments available for this condition. Here’s everything you need to know!
Most people don’t think about their eyes unless they have a reason to – usually when they notice discomfort. But the eye is one of the most complex and hardest-working organs in the human body.
The front of your eye (comprised of the iris, cornea, lens, and pupil) filters in light and focuses an image onto the membrane at the back of the eye, called the retina. This membrane sends electrical signals to the optic nerve, which then funnels them to the brain so you can understand what you’re seeing. Most importantly, the eye needs to stay lubricated for peak functionality.
Dry eye occurs when your eyes don’t get enough moisture. Without proper lubrication, they can feel itchy and painful, often accompanied by a burning sensation or vision issues. Dry eye can be triggered by other factors, but it’s primarily the result of decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation. This means that your eyes aren’t making enough tears or that your overall tear quality isn’t up to speed.
Some of these common symptoms may be familiar to you if you are suffering from dry eye:
A scratchy, stinging sensation in your eyes
Increased light sensitivity
Difficulty driving at night
Blurred or impaired vision
A lesser-known symptom of dry eye is actually watery eyes. This is a side effect of dry eye that many don’t expect. It may seem strange, but sometimes the body’s response to eye irritation is going into overdrive with tear production. However, in many cases, these tears are about quantity over quality.
Many factors can contribute to dry eye, including:
Tear duct infection or inflammation
Environmental conditions, like dry air, heat, and smoke
Pre-existing health issues, such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders
Medications, like some that treat acne, depression, or blood pressure
Too much screen time, which can cause infrequent blinking
The natural aging process and hormonal changes
Frequent or long-term contact lens use
We recommend a thorough eye exam to explore what may be causing your dry eyes, and recommendations can be offered after the exam, depending on your specific needs. Some options can include taking anti-inflammatory medications, using medicated eye drops, wearing customized lenses, or a more technology-based procedure that can help with eyelid, gland, and tear duct issues. Call today and make an appointment with one of our eye health specialists!