Did you know that more than 20 million Americans experience dry eyes annually? Dry eyes may be a common condition but it doesn’t make the symptoms any less painful. Indeed, you shouldn’t dismiss dry eyes!
Otherwise, you can end up with worse eye conditions. Dry eyes can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition requiring prompt and proper attention. Untreated dry eyes can also cause complications, such as corneal abrasions.
Causes of Dry Eyes
The eyes’ blinking action has a useful function in the maintenance of its health. With every blink, your eyes get a bath from tears, a combination of water, oil and mucus. Your eyes are then moisturized with the fluid and, thus, protected from the dust and dirt that can adversely impact them.
Dry eyes happen in two ways – first, when something irritates the eyes and, second, when something disrupts the normal production of tears. In either case, your eyes become drier than usual resulting in the symptoms of dry eyes.
Many things can cause dry eyes including:
- Dry air, such as when indoor heaters are on
- Side effects from certain medications like antidepressants, antihistamines and even birth control pills
- Dirty or ill-fitting contacts
- Long hours spent in front of the computer and reading
- Blocked tear ducts
If you observed dry eyes after being exposed to one of these possible causes, you should tell your doctor about it.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
Aside from the dry and itchy eyes, which may or may not be accompanied by a burning sensation, the common symptoms include:
- A scratching sensation in the eyes with a feeling like sandpaper rubbing against them
- An unusual sensitivity to light resulting in more blinking and squinting
- Difficulty in focusing your eyes on objects
- Watery eyes although the dry sensation remains
One or both of your eyes can be affected.
Treatment of Dry Eyes
Your first step should be to consult with your eye doctor at Sears to rule out underlying conditions. Your eye doctor may recommend the following steps:
- Change your prescription, if possible, in case medications are causing dry eyes
- Use eye drops in lubricating your eyes. Preservative-free eye drops with lubricating qualities are usually recommended for people with allergy-related dry eyes.
- Keep your contacts clean and avoid using them for prolonged periods.
- Use a humidifier to reduce dry air caused by indoor heaters.
- Lay damp and warm washcloth over your eyes for two minutes to relieve the dry eye sensation.
Many of these steps can be done at your home with little to no cost. You don’t have an excuse not to do them for this reason.