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Jan 27, 2020

Dealing With Dry Eye

Most of us have dealt with that gritty, dry sensation in our eyes a time or two. But what can you do when you’re facing chronically dry eyes?

Dry eyes, a condition formally called “dry eye,” occur when your eyes aren’t producing enough quality tears to stay lubricated. This can happen for many different reasons but with the same result — eyes that may sting or burn and are sometimes painfully uncomfortable.

But you don’t have to live with the discomfort of dry eye! Read on as we take a look at the condition and how to prevent and treat it.

Why Your Eyes Dry Out

First things first: What causes dry eye in the first place? Well, there are many different things that can dry out your eyes. There are two main causes, though. Either your eyes are not producing enough tears or they are producing poor quality tears. 

Tears are produced by glands in and around the eyelids. Many different factors can interfere with the production of tears, including the effects of aging, the environment we’re in, and medical conditions and medications. If your eyes stop producing the same amount of tears or your tears are evaporating more quickly due to environmental factors, dry eye can develop.

But you can also produce enough tears but not enough tears of good quality. What exactly makes for a quality tear? Tears have three components — oil, water, and mucus. Each of those components is necessary to protect and nourish the eye. If your tears aren’t made up effectively of these three key ingredients, they may evaporate too quickly or not spread out evenly in the eye, which can lead to dry eye.

The Symptoms of Dry Eye

Logically, the most obvious symptom of dry eye is dry eyes. But while that’s the most common symptom, it isn’t the only one!

If you have dry eye, you may experience:

  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Eye redness
  • Eye fatigue
  • Increased mucus production in the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Stinging or scratchy feeling in the eyes
  • Watery eyes

Occasionally experiencing these symptoms is normal, but if you’re dealing with them regularly, talk with your doctor for help finding relief.

How to Prevent Dry Eye

While there’s no way to 100 percent prevent dry eye, you can take steps to limit your risk of developing it.

Because the environment can contribute to the development of dry eye, protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection when outdoors. This will help shield your eyes from damaging winds, as well as from the harmful rays of the sun.

Your indoor air may also be a contributing factor in the development of dry eye, so you may find it helpful to use a humidifier in your home or office to increase the moisture in the air.

If you spend most of your day looking at a computer screen, remember to take regular breaks away from the screen. The 20/20/20 rule is a good guideline — at least every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

You can also improve the moisture in your eyes by ensuring you drink plenty of water each day, and talk with your eye doctor about whether taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement might be helpful.

How Dry Eye Is Treated

If you’re experiencing chronic dry eye, treatment options are available. Your eye doctor may recommend using some form of artificial tears to help lubricate the eye. There are also other options that help promote the production of tears or that can help your eyes properly absorb tears. At Eye Centers of Tennessee, we even offer an innovative option called TrueTear®, which uses neurostimulation to boost your tear production.

If you’re experiencing dry eyes, you don’t have to suffer. Let our team help you find relief! Contact us to set up an appointment today.

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