Dry Eyes are an Annoying Condition of Modern Life
More people than ever have a problem with dry eyes, which causes symptoms of itching, burning, scratchiness, redness, blurring and light sensitivity. This chronic feeling of eye discomfort is often called dry eye syndrome. It can be a chronic problem that resists traditional treatment. If you suffer from dry eyes, a look at the many causes and treatment options can help you find the solution that works for you.
Causes of Dry Eyes
Dry eye syndrome can be caused by environmental factors, behavioral factors and physical factors. In some cases, these factors can work together to create conditions that cause the problem to continue.
· Aging can cause less moisture to be formed in the eyes.
· Certain diseases can cause dryness of the eyes, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome and certain vascular conditions.
· Some medications, such as antihistamines, can cause dryness of the eyes.
· Problems of the eyelids can cause incomplete blinking of the eyes, which leads to dryness.
· Living and working in a very dry indoor or outdoor environment can cause eye dryness.
· Work activities that cause the eyes to look at the same spot for long periods of time can also cause dryness.
· Hormonal changes of pregnancy can cause dryness of the eyes.
For minor cases of dry eyes, many people find that increasing the humidity in their environment helps to provide more moisture and greater comfort. Taking more breaks from close work or the computer monitor can allow more normal blinking activity and greater eye comfort.
Warm water compresses on the eyes periodically throughout the day can also help to relieve dryness and scratchiness. Scrubbing the eyelids with no-tears baby shampoo can also help to create a thicker lipid layer that helps to soothe eyes. Over-the-counter artificial tears compounds and lubricants, applied throughout the day, can also be helpful in relieving dryness and burning. Lubricating ointments are also available, but these often cause blurring that makes them only useful at night.
Medical Treatments For Dry Eyes
Punctal plugs are silicone gel plugs that are inserted in the corners of the eyes to prevent draining of tears so that they are in contact with the eye surface for a longer period. Insertion is a minor procedure that can be done in the doctor’s office.
Your opthalmologist may also suggest prescription medications that help to produce more tears. If there is a problem with the eyelids or the eye surface, the physician will also treat the condition to help provide greater overall comfort. A review of any medications you are taking may indicate that a change is necessary to prevent drying of the eye fluids.