According to the National Eye Institute, it’s estimated that dry eye affects nearly 5 million Americans over the age of 50. Additionally, tens of millions more may also have undiagnosed dry eye with less severe symptoms. Like so many disease of the eye (glaucoma, cataracts, retinal issues), Dry Eye often goes unnoticed for a long period of time until symptoms become more noticeable. While Dry Eye isn’t quite as debilitating as some of those other issues, this doesn’t make it any less serious of a problem. Anything that causes physical discomfort and affects your day-to-day life is a serious issue that should be examined by a doctor or a trained professional. But if so many people live there lives without ever realizing they have Dry Eye, what can you do to know if you should be looking at treatment options for Dry Eye?
One way to know whether or not you should see your doctor about dry eye is to know what the risk factors are. Dry Eye can either be a temporary or chronic condition, and is often systemic of other issues. Some of these issues can be serious, and earlier treatment could prevent more permanent damage. Many medications can cause Dry Eye as well. Prescriptions for high blood pressure or Parkinson’s disease, as well as antihistamines and decongestants can cause dryness of the mouth and eyes. Pregnancy can also cause temporary Dry Eye. Other items that cause Dry Eye include:

  • Allergies and the medications
  • Long periods of non-blinking, like when staring at a computer screen
  • Long-term contact lens wear
  • Plastic surgery
  • Chemical or thermal burns of the eyelid
  • Other medical issues that can cause dryness of the eyes, mouth, nose, and possibly other organs

Another way to know whether or not you should see a doctor fro Dry Eye is to understand the symptoms and look for those symptoms before they become a serious nuisance. The common symptoms of Dry Eye include:

  • Stinging or burning of the eye
  • Feeling like there is something in the eye
  • Periods of excess tears followed by periods of dryness
  • Redness of the eye
  • The inability to produce tears when crying
  • Discomfort while wearing contacts
  • Eye fatigue, eye aches, or heavy eye lids

In recent years, the treatment options for Dry Eye has increased drastically, giving people more opportunities to find relief without the need for surgery. Often, an oral medication or eye drop can help reduce the discomfort of Dry Eye and provide you with more natural tears. Additionally, surgical options may provide more of a permanent solution to Dry Eye rather than simply treating the symptoms with medications. In the meantime, there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself from the troublesome effects of the Dry Eye. Try using over-the-counter drops to keep the eyes moisturized throughout the day, always wear sunglasses when in direct sunlight, and try to give your eyes a break from staring at a computer screen for prolonged periods of time.
By recognizing the risk factors of Dry Eye, understanding its symptoms and knowing what you can do to protect yourself from any needless irritation or discomfort, you can find relief from Dry Eye. For more information about Dry Eye and what we can do for you, contact us today.
Remember, Friday, July 25th, Drs. Lynch and Hickman will hold a Lunch & Learn discussing new treatment options for Dry Eye sufferers. There are only a few seats left, so please contact us ASAP to reserve your seat. Simply call our office or email us at to save your spot today.