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Dry is a common cause of irritation, vision problems, and general discomfort -- but what causes dry eye, how do you know you have it, and what can you do about it? Here are some the answers to some frequently asked questions on the subject, courtesy of Best Eye Associates.
Dry eye is a condition that occurs when your eyes are not sufficiently lubricated by the tear film that normally covers and bathes the corneas. Your eyes may be not producing enough tears, or the tears they produce may not include enough oil to lock moisture in, allowing the water to evaporate too quickly.
In many cases, simply getting older can cause dry eye as the eyes naturally produce fewer tears. External factors such as wind exposure and unrelieved computer use (which can discourage the eyes from blinking and replenishing their tear film) may also cause dry eye. Medications and/or underlying conditions such as Sjogren's syndrome can leave some people with dry eyes. Even a previous eye surgery can lead to dry eye.
Dry eye symptoms typically include redness, itching, eye fatigue, light sensitivity, unusually thick eye mucous, blurry vision, and a nagging feeling that there is something lodged in your eye. Contact lenses can become more uncomfortable to wear, and nighttime driving may also become more difficult. Oddly enough, watery eyes are another symptom caused the eyes' efforts to re-hydrate themselves, even if the tears evaporate too quickly to be of any help.
Eyes that are not properly protected by tear film are vulnerable to dust, debris, and bacteria that can cause eye infections. Chronic dryness can lead to ulceration of the corneas.
Our optometrist, Dr. Best, will evaluate your tear production and tear film composition to determine the nature of your problem. We will also ask you about and underlying health challenges, medications or lifestyle issues that may be contributing to your dry eye.
Our optometrist can prescribe either artificial tears or a thicker, gel-like product to moisturize your eyes and relieve your dry eye symptoms. We may also recommend that you ask your doctor about modifying any current treatments to avoid the side effect of dryness. Taking more frequent breaks from the computer and staying out of the wind (including ceiling fans and air conditioners) can also help.
If you suspect that a case of dry eye is affecting your comfort, vision and overall quality of life, you can get more answers to your questions -- and solutions to your symptoms -- right here at Best Eye Associates. Call 303-254-4888 to talk to our optometrist in Thornton, CO and schedule an appointment!