Your eyes constantly make tears, which keep your eyes moist, lubricated, and clean—and they do it with every blink. However, if your eyes are irritated or when you cry, your eyes produce an excess of tears. But what happens when your eyes don’t make enough tears? This issue is called Dry Eye Syndrome. Let’s look at dry eye symptoms and causes plus 20 easy ways to relieve dry eyes.
What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Millions of Americans suffer with dry eye syndrome each year. This condition occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears to stay moist. This condition can cause pain, irritation, and even vision problems. The good news is that there are many ways to keep your eyes healthy and lubricated while making dry eye syndrome easily manageable.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Although dry eye syndrome needs to be diagnosed by your optometrist or other eye professional, you may have dry eye if you are experiencing some of these symptoms.
- Stinging and/or burning
- Blurry vision, especially when reading
- Scratchy feeling in your eye
- Strings of mucus in or around your eyes
- Red, irritated eyes
- Pain wearing contact lenses
- Light sensitivity
- Teary eyes (Yes, dry eyes can cause your eyes to overcompensate.)
What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome occurs when your glands don’t make enough tears to keep your eyes moist, your natural tears dry up too fast or your tears aren’t doing their job to keep your eyes wet.
Anyone can get dry eye syndrome for a variety of reasons. However, those 50 and older, contact lens wearers, women (especially if you’ve gone through menopause), and sufferers of certain auto-immune diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, thyroid disease, lupus) can be more prone to dry eye syndrome. In addition, you can also experience dry eye syndrome if you don’t get enough vitamin A (e.g., carrots, broccoli, liver) or omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., walnuts, fish, vegetable oils) in your diet.
The following conditions can also lead to dry eye syndrome:
- Blepharitis (eyelids are swollen or red)
- Entropion (eyelids turn inward)
- Ectropion (eyelids turn outward)
- Being in smoke, wind, or a very dry climate
- Looking at a screen for an extended period
- Reading and other activities that reduce blinking
- Using contact lenses for a long time
- Having refractive eye surgery (e.g., LASIK)
- Taking certain medicines (e.g., diuretics, beta-blockers, allergy and cold medicines [antihistamines], sleeping pills, anxiety and antidepressant medicines, heartburn medicines)
Always tell your optometrist about any prescription and non-prescription medicines you take.
20 Easy Ways to Relieve Dry Eyes
Fortunately, there are many options available to relieve your dry eye syndrome. Some methods you can easily try at home, while some are only available in office. Other methods may only be recommended in extreme cases. We advise talking with your optometrist about any recommended options for you.
- Nutritional supplements
- Blinking more frequently
- Cleaning your eyelids
- Over-the-counter eye drops (artificial tears)
- Prescription eye drops
- Medication adjustment
- Warm compresses
- Drinking more water
- Lifestyle changes
- Getting more sleep
- Wrap-around glasses/sunglasses
- Eliminating/reducing contact lens wear
- Better-quality glasses
- Using a humidifier
- Tear duct plugs
- Thermal pulsation
- Intense pulsed light (IPL)
- Gland expansion
- Surgery (only recommended in certain cases)
Do you suffer with dry eyes?
Dr. Fruchtman can help relieve your dry eye condition. Call today!