Millions of people in the United States deal with dry eyes, and many of those people could be diagnosed with what is referred to in the medical field as dry eye syndrome or chronic dry eyes. Dry eye is a bigger problem among middle-aged people. Nearly five million people over the age of 50 have dry eyes, and there are about twice as many women than men who have the problem. At Coldwater Vision Center in Coldwater, MS, we offer a range of treatment solutions for dry eyes, and we have gathered the pertinent information patients should know about this bothersome eye health problem.
Common Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eyes can have causes that fall under three different categories: environmentally-induced, medically-induced, and eye-induced. Some people will have multiple underlying causes of dry eyes and not just one. However, it is rare to not find at least one easy-to-pinpoint cause of the problem.
Environmentally-induced dry eye syndrome is relative to some outlying environmental factors. Smoke, allergens, and even fragrances or cosmetics can be to blame in these instances. It can be difficult at times to pinpoint environmental triggers for dry eyes, but once found, this is the easiest form of dry eyes to treat because it only involves getting rid of environmental triggers.
Medically-induced dry eyes can stem from an underlying health issue, such as diabetes or an auto-immune disorder, or even just your age. Some medications, such as antihistamines and some high blood pressure medications, can also have dry eyes or decreased tear production listed as a side effect. Diagnosing dry eyes caused by your health or medical treatment can be tricky because it can involve a deep assessment of your current health status and medical history.
In certain situations, the dry eye problem will be coming from the eye itself. For example, if there are malformations of the tear ducts, the tear film may not be making it into the eye when it is released. Further, the shape of the cornea of some eyes can make some people more prone to issues with dry eyes.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
Dry eyes can affect patients in different ways, but most will have the same common complaints. Some of the signs and symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Burning, stinging, or itching eyes
- Difficulty focusing, especially for long periods
- Eyes that feel overly fatigued
- Problems driving at night
- Cloudy or blurred vision
- Stringy or thick eye mucous
- Red-rimmed eyelids or eyelids that feel irritated or itchy
- Excessive tearing at times
- Excessive sensitivity to light
- Inability to wear contact lenses due to lacking natural moisture
Treatment Options for Dry Eye Syndrome
In order to properly diagnose dry eyes, the eye doctor may look at several things about your medical history or your usual environment. In a lot of cases, there is something there that is causing the problem, which means treatment may not always be something directly involving the eyes. For example, some people may experience dry eyes due to a medication they take on a daily basis or because of allergies, and both of these things can be adjusted to help with the problem.
If adjusting outlying factors does not fix the problem, the condition is considered to be chronic. In these cases, the eye doctor may prescribe something to help, such as medicated eye drops or artificial tears. Oral anti-inflammatory medication can sometimes help relieve irritation in the eyes due to dryness. In extreme cases, drainage points in the eyelids can be surgically altered so the tears your eyes do produce are held in place for longer.
How Dry Eye Syndrome Is Diagnosed
The eye doctor may do several things to properly diagnose an issue with dry eyes. First, you will likely get a lot of questions about medications you may be taking and your medical history. An eye examination will likely be performed to look for issues with the cornea or tear ducts that could potentially be related to your complaints. The optometrist may use a tear quality test to determine the quality of the tear film that your eyes are producing. Tear film quality is typically low in people who have issues with dry eyes.
Talk to Your Eye Doctor in Coldwater, MS About Dry Eye Symptoms
Even though dry eye syndrome or simply dry eyes may be one of the more common optometric issues among patients, it is not a condition that should be ignored. Treatments are available that can help, and in rare cases, dry eyes can be a sign that something else is going on with your visual health or your general health. If you have problems with dry eyes, reach out to us at Coldwater Vision Center to schedule an appointment.