Tears are essential for your eye health as they lubricate the eye surface. Whenever you blink, a tear film sweeps over the surface of your eye. A thin layer of fatty compounds called lipids preserves the watery tear layer on your eyes.
The tear film stays intact whenever you blink for your eye health and comfort. Dry eye develops when your eyes lack enough of the right quality tears for lubrication and eye comfort. The dryness can cause damage to the surface of your eyeball if left untreated.
Anyone can get dry eye. However, the condition is more common in aging individuals whose eyes produce a low volume of tears. People with arthritis and post-menopausal women also experience dry eyes more often.
Some health conditions and medications can trigger dry eyes. You are likely to struggle wearing contact lenses if you have dry eyes. You may also find it hard to stay in rooms with air conditioning. Dry eye has no cure, but you can alleviate its symptoms.
Below are the common symptoms of dry eye:
Burning or stinging
Itchiness, especially in the corners of your eyes
A sensation that you have something in your eyes like a sand grain or an eyelash
Occasional blurry vision
Mucus on your eyelids when you wake up
Stringy mucus inside your eyes
Irritants, such as dust or smoke
Aging slows down your tear production
Medical conditions like arthritis
Too much screen time
Medications, such as antihistamines or oral contraceptives
Incomplete or infrequent blinking
Climatic conditions such as wind or dry air
Your specialist can diagnose your dry eye through various tests. They will examine your eye surface using a slit lamp biomicroscope, a special microscope. They can also use a yellow dye called sodium fluorescein. They put a drop into your eyes to mix with your tears to evaluate the tear film.
Your eye doctor can also put filter paper or strips between your eye and lower lid. They will do so to measure how your eyes produce tears.
Dry eye has no cure. However, there are various ways to manage the condition. Treatments help increase tear production, prevent loss of tears, and maintain their volume on the eye surface.
You can treat your condition by blinking regularly to release a tear film to lubricate your eye surface. Using eye drops, ointments, or gels for lubricating your eye surface also helps.
You can also use humidifiers or bowls of water in your room to increase the amount of humidity in your surroundings. There are medications that your doctor may ask you to stop taking as they may increase your risk for dry eye.
Your specialist can also insert special plugs into your tear ducts. Doing so will help prevent the loss of excessive tears from your eyes. You may also resort to surgery if your specialist considers your case severe.
For more about common dry eye symptoms, visit Dry Eye Center of Alabama and Family Eye Care at our office in Homewood, Alabama. You can also call (205) 490-2322 to book an appointment today.