It could happen after spending hours on the computer or after being outside in dry, hot windy weather. You might have noticed it when you were at a high altitude or being exposed to cigarette smoke: Dry, irritated eyes.
Dry eye syndrome is more than just annoying. It’s important to prevent your eyes from drying out because this dryness can cause lasting irritation or, when it’s chronic, scarring. In fact, it’s a medical condition that should be treated promptly before it can cause lasting damage.
Dry Eye Causes
Ideally, your eye is constantly producing fluids that keep your eye moisturized and lubricated. Coating your eye at any moment, there are actually three layers. The innermost layer is formed of mucus covering the cornea. The middle layer is mostly water with a little salt and protein. This layer supplies the cornea with important nutrients. The outer layer is an oily film that seals in and slows down evaporation of the watery layer.
There are several glands producing these fluids that nourish, protect and clean the eyes. As we age, this fluid production tends to slow down. Contact lenses, certain medications, some diseases and, of course, environmental factors also increase a person’s chances of developing dry eye syndrome.
Dry Eye Symptoms
- Itchy or burning eyes
- Irritation and redness
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty driving at night
- Blurred vision that gets better after you blink
- Watery eyes
- Eye fatigue, especially after watching television, reading or looking at a computer screen
Dry Eye Treatment
If you continue to be troubled by irritated, dry eyes, see your eye doctor promptly. Untreated, dry eyes can cause eye infections, abrasions on the surface of your eyes or even corneal ulcers.
Occasional dry eyes can be treated with artificial tears. We can recommend either over-the-counter or prescription eyedrops chosen specifically for your eyes and lifestyle.
There are tiny drainage holes that allow tears to flow into the nasal passages. For some patients, we might recommend blocking these drainage holes so moisture stays in the eyes longer.
Good at-home practices include directing heating and air conditioning flows away from the face, wearing glasses or sunglasses that keep wind from hitting the eyes, taking frequent computer or television breaks, and keeping the eyes clean.
In the Tampa Bay area, we can help you determine the exact cause of dry eyes and return you to comfort. Please consult with us by calling 727-500-2020 to schedule a consultation without delay.