This is the season; we are seeing more and more dry eye symptoms coming in for eye problems in the ophthalmology practice that I work. Dry Eye is a problem all year long but even more so with the dry, cold air we are experiencing this winter. Symptoms like, itching, blurry vision, burning eyes and watering eyes are all indicators that the eyes may be dry. People are mislead by the fact that their eyes are watering and think, ‘how can they be dry’; the fact is that eyes defend themselves by watering, it is a defense to irritation.
When people think their eyes are watering they neglect to seek help because they can’t imagine that they may be dry. The tears are not of good quality and only wet the eyes for a short time and do not cure the problem. When someone has dry eye their tear film is inadequate to re moisten the eye which can lead to infections and irritations for many people. There are also many medical conditions that cause dryness to the eyes including a disease called Sjogrens syndrome in which the mouth is also dry.
To obtain the best vision, the cornea must be well hydrated and if the eyes are dry, the cornea is not able to work properly. There are tests that can be easily performed in a medical office to determine if the eyes are dry . There are also simple procedures that can be performed in an office setting that can alleviate the symptoms as well. There are several tear lubricants that can be taken that are over the counter as well; some thicker than others depending on the extent of dryness. Prescriptions drops are also available if need be to restore the natural tear base needed to hydrate a severely dry cornea. There are also special glasses that can be worn called moisture chamber glasses that can adapt to any pair of glasses to keep the moisture in the eyes. Any optician can order these for you. What people make the mistake of doing is using a tear drop with a whitener in them which only makes the condition worse and gives temporary relief. Tears that say “get the red out” also blanch the surface blood vessels in the eye, make the eye appear whiter for a short time and dry out the eye.
Dry eyes are not to be taken lightly; if left untreated, they can cause a host of other eye problems including infections, discomfort and inability to see properly. Even taking small steps such as adding a humidifier to your room can put moisture into the air and your eyes as well.
The most vulnerable age group that have dry eye are woman in the baby boomer age group. Research has found that this group has one of the greatest percentages of dry eye suffers in the population. If over the counter solutions don’t give relief then make a visit to the eye care professional; it may save your vision.