What Is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a common condition that happens when your eyes can't produce enough tears or tears of adequate quality. Without lubrication and moisture, your eyes can become uncomfortable and prone to infection. At Columbia Vision Center, we have been providing Seattle residents with reliable eye care services for many years. Read on to learn more about dry eye and how we can help you find relief.
Causes of Dry Eye
There are two primary causes of dry eye: not enough tears or low-quality tears.
- Low tear production: Your eyes may stop making enough tears due to age, medications such as antihistamines and blood-pressure drugs, or health problems including lupus and vitamin A deficiency. For women, pregnancy and menopause can affect tear production.
- Low-quality tears: Some people produce tears that are unable to lubricate the eye. High-quality tears are made of aqueous fluid, mucus, and oils. If one of those substances is imbalanced, the tears aren't able to form a healthy film across your eye. This can happen in connection with gland problems, certain health conditions, allergies, or hormonal shifts.
In some cases, your environment can contribute to dry eye. Extremely dry or windy climates can cause tears to dry quickly, so they don't have a chance to lubricate your eyes. If you spend most of the day behind a computer, low blink volume can have a similar effect.
Risk Factors for Dry Eye
Anyone can experience dry eye, but the following factors increase your risk:
- Age of 30+
- Female>male gender
- Wearing contact lenses
- Working on screens and devices for many hours
- Taking medications such as antidepressants, decongestants, and antihistamine
- Using the wrong kinds of eyedrops
- Health conditions including diabetes, eyelid inflammation, and rheumatoid arthritis
Dry Eye Symptoms
The symptoms of dry eye are not always obvious. They may be mild at first and increase in intensity. Some symptoms include:
- Stinging or burning feeling
- Scratchy or gritty sensation, as though something is in the eye
- Occasional or constant watering
- Red eyes
- Sensitivity to lights
- Blurred vision
Diagnosing Dry Eye
If you're struggling with symptoms of dry eye, it's time to book an optometry appointment. Your eye doctor will dilate your eyes with drops and conduct a comprehensive exam. To diagnose dry eye, the doctor will look closely at your eyelids, check the quality of your tear film, and check for ocular inflammation.
Dry Eye Treatments
Many cases of dry eye can be treated with over-the-counter lubrication drops and eyelid cleaning products. If the condition is more advanced, prescription medications may stimulate tear production. Other potential treatments include environmental changes, behavioral changes, tear duct plugs, and new technology in laser treatments.
Schedule an Appointment with Our Eye Doctor in Seattle
Call Columbia Vision Center today at (206) 382-6682 for more information on dry eye or to schedule an appointment with our optometrist.