Dry eyes develop when your eyes do not produce adequate tears for lubrication. It also occurs when they have low-quality tears that evaporate quickly. The condition is painful, uncomfortable, and requires immediate relief.
Your tear film consists of three layers. It has an outer oily layer that spreads the tear across your eye surface. The middle layer is watery and is the largest constituent of your tears. It washes away objects from your eyes.
The inner layer is sticky and spreads out the watery layer on your eye surface to prevent your tears from evaporating quickly.
Below are some of the symptoms that show you have dry eyes:
Discomfort when you wear contact lenses
Mucus around and in your eyes
Feeling like you have a foreign object in your eyes
Below are some of the causes of dry eyes:
Aging – Dry eyes occur at any age. However, the symptoms are more prevalent for people above 50.
Computer use – Staring at digital screens for long hours with less blinking increases the risk of dry eyes.
Environmental factors – Decrease of humidity indoors and outdoors increases dry eye risks. Air conditions, heating systems, and ceiling fans make tears evaporate quickly. High altitudes, windy, dry climates, and conditions also heighten the risk for dry eyes.
Smoking – Smoking causes dry eyes and other severe eye conditions, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Menopause – Women in their menopausal years have a high risk of dry eyes than men of the same age.
Health conditions – Diseases such as lupus and diabetes can cause the eyes to dry.
Air travel – Airplane cabins have dry air that can cause dry eyes.
Eyelid problems – You can get severe dry eyes if your eyelids do not close when you blink or sleep.
LASIK – Some corneal surgeries or LASIK sometimes lead to dry eyes. It is ideal to seek treatment before LASIK if you have dry eyes prior. Doing so will ensure you get the best results.
Medications – Certain medications increase the risk of dry eyes. You are likely to experience this if you take antihistamines or antidepressants.
Unfortunately, dry eyes have no cure. However, various options can help lubricate your eyes. They help protect your vision by reducing dry eye symptoms. The options manage the condition by focusing on minimizing and removing triggers in the environment. They ensure your tear film is functional and spreads on your eye surface.
Your doctor can also check whether you have an underlying problem that causes your eyes to dry. They will then remove or treat it to resolve your symptoms. It is ideal to note that aging commonly comes with dry eyes.
Your eye doctor can prescribe or recommend different treatments for your symptoms or underlying conditions. You can use artificial tears, prescription eye drops, or moisturizing ointments. You can also get punctal plugs that can keep your eyes longer in your eyes.
Your doctor can suggest surgery to tighten your lower eyelids to retain your tears. You may need to change your medication if the one you use increases your dry eye risk.
For more about dry eyes, call Raleigh Eye Center at (919) 876-2427 or (252) 492-8021 to reach our offices in Raleigh, Reidsville, Henderson, Durham, North Carolina, or South Hill, Virginia.