Dry eye is a growing condition where there is inadequate moisture or lubrication in the eyes. It occurs for many reasons: increased screen time, contact lens wear, environmental factors like pollution and low humidity, certain medications, allergies and more. The reason why eyes get dry is that certain stressors cause the eyes to not produce enough tears or when the quality of tears is poor. Tears are essential for the health and protection of the eye as they help to maintain clear vision, protect the eye from infection and remove debris.
Dry eye may cause a range of symptoms, including:
- a burning, itching or stinging sensation in the eyes
- eye fatigue
- sensitivity to light
- blurred or fluctuating vision
- redness and inflammation in the eyes and eyelids
Various factors can contribute to dry eye, such as aging, hormonal changes, certain medications, environmental factors, and medical issues such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and others.
Treatment of dry eye may involve using artificial tears or lubricating eye drops to relieve symptoms, avoiding irritants such as smoke or wind, increasing humidity levels, and taking medication to reduce inflammation. Severe cases of dry eye may require advanced treatments or prescription medications from your eye doctor.
Below are treatment options for dry eye:
- Artificial tears: Over-the-counter artificial tears can alleviate dry eye symptoms and temporarily moisturize the eyes.
- Prescription eye drops: If artificial tears don’t relieve your dry eyes, your eye doctor may prescribe eyedrops that contain medication to reduce inflammation.
- Warm compresses: Placing a warm compress over your closed eyes can help melt the oil in the glands to unclog them.
- Eyelid and lash cleansing: Removes the debris, pollution, allergens and bacteria from the eyelids and lashes which wreck havoc on the eyes.
- Omega-3 in the diet or supplements: These dietary supplements may alleviate symptoms by helping with meibum (oil) production and quality.
- Environmental changes: Avoiding dry, hot, or windy environments and using a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air.
- Taking breaks: People who spend long periods staring at screens should take frequent breaks to look away and blink more.
If your symptoms are severe or prolonged, consult your eye doctor.