According to a study conducted by the National Eye Institute. It is estimated that around 5 million people in the United States suffer from dry eye syndrome. This number is projected to increase as the population ages and more people use digital devices that can lead to eye strain and dry eyes.
What are the symptoms of dry eyes?
The symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Burning or itching sensation in the eyes
- A feeling of having something in the eye
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Watery eyes (as the eyes try to compensate for the dryness)
- Tired or fatigued eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may become worse in conditions such as air conditioning, reading, or prolonged screen time.
What causes dry eyes?
It can be caused by several factors, including:
- Decreased tear production – this can be due to age, hormonal changes, certain medications, or medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Evaporation of tears – the tear film that coats the eye can evaporate too quickly due to factors such as wind, air conditioning, or prolonged screen time.
- Blocked oil glands – meibomian glands in the eyelids produce oil that helps to keep the tear film stable. If these glands become blocked, the tear film can evaporate too quickly.
- Environmental factors – factors such as wind, air, and smoke can contribute to dry eyes.
- Lid problems – conditions such as eyelid inflammation or problems with the shape of the eyelids can interfere with the spread of tears over the eye surface.
- Medical conditions – certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or rosacea can cause dry eyes.
- Certain medications – certain medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and some antidepressants can reduce tear production and contribute to dry eyes.
What treatments are available for dry eyes?
There are several treatments available for it, including:
- Artificial tears – over-the-counter artificial tear solutions can help to lubricate the eyes and relieve symptoms of dry eyes.
- Warm compresses – applying a warm compress to the eyes can help to unblock oil glands and improve tear flow.
- Eyelid hygiene – keeping the eyelids clean and free of debris can help to improve meibomian gland function and reduce symptoms of dry eyes.
- Punctal plugs – small devices that can be inserted into the tear ducts to prevent tears from draining away too quickly.
- Prescription eye drops – if over-the-counter artificial tears are not effective. A doctor may prescribe a stronger eye drop to help relieve dry eye symptoms.
- Restasis – a prescription eye drop that can help to increase tear production and improve dry eye symptoms.
- Dietary changes – increasing the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids through foods such as fish, flaxseed, and chia seeds can help to improve tear film quality and reduce dry eye symptoms.
It is important to consult with an eye doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your individual case of dry eyes.
What are some at-home remedies?
Here are some at-home remedies that may help relieve symptoms of dry eyes:
- Blink regularly – when reading or using digital devices, be conscious of blinking frequently to help keep the eyes lubricated.
- Use a humidifier – increasing the humidity in your home or workplace can help to reduce the evaporation of tears and relieve dry eye symptoms.
- Adjust computer screens – positioning computer screens below eye level and angled upwards can help. It reduces the amount of time spent looking downward and reduces its symptoms of it.
- Wear sunglasses – wearing sunglasses that block UV and wind can help to reduce exposure to environmental factors that can contribute to dry eyes.
- Avoid eye irritants – avoid exposure to irritants such as smoke, fumes, and harsh lighting that can contribute to dry eyes.
- Limit screen time – take frequent breaks and limit the amount of time spent looking at screens to reduce eye strain and dryness.
- Try a warm compress – applying a warm compress to the eyes can help to unblock oil glands and improve tear flow.