Dry Eye Disease
More Than Just the Dry Feeling
Have your eyes ever felt tired and fatigued at the end of the day? Believe it or not, it may not be a glasses prescription change that you need – you may have a condition called dry eye disease. As intuitive as the condition sounds, dry eye encompasses far more than just “feeling dry.” Other common symptoms include grittiness, excessive wateriness, having a burning sensation or experiencing chronic redness. These symptoms can range from being very mild to severe.
Dry eye disease is multifactorial and is caused by a disruption of the natural balance of your tears. For some of us, dry eyes are a product of our environment. You may work or live in very dry conditions, or it could be a by-product of extensive computer use. For others, it can stem from pre-existing diseases like diabetes, hypertension or thyroid conditions. Other diseases like Sjogren’s, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis can also cause dry eye disease, and for some, these can be the most difficult to treat. Surprisingly, many of the medications you may be taking could also be causing dry eye side effects.
Other patients who are more at risk for dry eye are contact lens wearers, women (due to hormonal changes), and those who have a diet that is low in omega 3’s fatty acids and vitamin A. These nutrients are commonly found in foods like fish, walnuts and carrots. A rising risk factor in young patients is heavy screen time with digital devices.
As complex as dry eye disease is, there is no “one drop fits all” to improve symptoms. Depending on the severity, treatment can range anywhere from over-the-counter artificial tears, prescription eye drops, warm compresses, lid cleansers, punctal plugs or oil gland extraction and pulsation.
Dry eye disease can be very debilitating for those who suffer from severe symptoms. If you feel you are suffering from dry eye, it is recommended that you see your eye doctor for a treatment plan. These visits are covered under many medical insurance plans. During your visit, your eye doctor will discuss a tailored regimen that is specific to your eye care needs.
– Bonnie-Kim Schwertz, O.D.