Do your eyes often feel dry, itchy, or irritated? These can be signs of a chronic condition called dry eye syndrome.
Specialized glands in the eyes produce tears continuously to see clearly and maintain comfort with every blink and glance. When you don’t make enough tears or the tears produced are low in quality, the consequent dryness can affect you in more ways than one.
Many people are not aware that the irritation, pain, and other bothersome sensations they are experiencing in their eyes result from dryness. At Zion Eye Institute, our fellowship-trained specialists are here to treat your dry eyes and help you find the relief you need.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that affects millions of people in the United States. Having dry eyes occurs when there is not enough moisture and lubrication in your eyes. Healthy eyes maintain a thin fluid layer on their surface, called the tear film. The tear film acts as a barrier protecting the eye from potential irritants from the outside world. It also smooths the surface of the eye to allow you to see clearly and comfortably. There can be multiple causes of dry eye syndrome. There must be three elements to have a healthy tear film: oil, water, and mucus. The tears won’t be healthy if any of these elements are not in the tear film.
A tear has three elements: oil, water, and mucus. Each element has three distinct functions. These work together to keep the eyes moist. Issues can arise with any of these three elements and lead to dryness. Decreased tear production can be a byproduct of aging, especially if someone goes through menopause. Other factors ranging from side effects of certain medications like antihistamines to autoimmune diseases can also negatively impact tear production capabilities.
Some lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing dry eyes. In particular, your risk of developing dry eyes increases if you have a diet low in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids or if you wear contact lenses for a prolonged time.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
Besides suffering from dry eyes, if you have dry eye syndrome, you may experience the following symptoms:
A gritty, stinging, or burning sensation
A feeling like something is the eye, known as a foreign body sensation
Stringy mucus around the eyes
Pain while wearing contacts
Although it sounds counterintuitive, having eyes that water excessively is a symptom of dry eyes. Having watery eyes occurs as the body attempts to make up for the lack of moisture.
The overabundance of tears in the eye can make your vision blurry and distorted.
Do you think a dry eye treatment like BlephEx may be right for you?
Schedule an appointment at Zion Eye Institute in Saint George, UT, to learn more!
Call today (435) 656-2020 or toll free (877) 841-2020.
You can purchase a compress at a drugstore, or you can dampen a washcloth with warm water. Many patients find this method soothing, as it can help break down any crusts or residue that may have built up along the eyes.
Eye Drops and Artificial Tears
Eye drops and artificial tears can replace the natural moisture your eyes are missing and cannot produce on their own. There are multiple brands available over the counter, and you can use them whenever your eyes feel dry, irritated, or cause you discomfort.
Avoid Air Blowing Directly at Your Eyes
You want to make sure that the environment around you is not contributing to your dry eye symptoms. Air conditioners and heaters can reduce moisture in even the healthiest eyes.
Only use them when needed, and make sure cool or warm air is not blowing directly into your eyes. Consider adding a humidifier to the rooms you spend the most time in, like your bedroom or office.
Eat a Diet That’s High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What you eat and drink can affect the level of moisture in your eyes. To maintain proper hydration, aim for at least eight glasses of water a day.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish can also benefit tear production. Consider adding more salmon, tuna, and mackerel to your diet. Walnuts and flaxseed are excellent sources of these oils too.
How Can You Treat Dry Eyes When At-Home Remedies Don’t Help?
When home remedies and over-the-counter medications are not enough to alleviate your dry eye symptoms, it may be time to visit the eye doctor. There are a variety of treatments available to ensure you can see clearly, and comfortably once again.
Your eye doctor may recommend prescription eye drops to reduce inflammation, such as those containing steroids. They may prescribe antibiotics to control inflammation that can occur in the eyelids and compromise the quality of your tears. One root cause of irritation in the eyes is lid hygiene. Having unclean eyelids can lead to irritation and dryness.
More than half of patients experience symptoms due to inadequate eyelid hygiene. At Zion Eye Institute, we use BlephEx to maintain clean and healthy eyelids. Many patients that need BlephEx have a condition called blepharitis. Blepharitis occurs when oil glands in the eyelids become inflamed, affecting how the eyes produce tears.
If you have blepharitis, you may have red, itchy eyelids, dry eyes, or other symptoms of inflammation. Getting BlephEx is an effective way of treating blepharitis because it removes bacterial biofilm from the eyelid. BlephEx is an in-office procedure that spins a medical-grade micro-sponge along the edge of the eyelashes and eyelids. Your eye doctor at Zion Eye Institute uses a fresh micro-sponge on each eye.
The treatment only takes about 6-8 minutes and may feel like a tickling sensation. For increased comfort, you’ll receive a numbing eye drop in each eye before the treatment. You should have BlephEx treatments every 4-6 months or as recommended by your eye doctor for the best results.
Zion Eye Institute: 1791 East 280 North St. George, UT 84790