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Dry Eye: Those Itchy Eyes Can Be Prevented

If you often find yourself rubbing your irritated or blurry eyes, you’re not alone. Dry eye is one of the most common conditions we see in San Antonio.

The worst part: most people who are suffering don’t even know they have it!

Almost five million Americans have dry eye. This is a real problem where the eyes either don’t produce enough tears or the tears produced are poor quality.

Many people who struggle with dry eye are over 50 years old, but it’s not uncommon among younger people.

Each time we blink, our tears spread across the surface, or cornea, of our eyes. Tears have tiny layers of oil, water, and mucus. They provide lubrication, reduce risk of infections, and clear away particles. Keep reading to learn more about dry eye!

What Are The Symptoms Of Dry Eyes?

The primary symptoms of dry eye are:

• irritated, gritty, scratchy or burning eyes

• feeling like something is in your eyes

• excessive watering

• blurred vision

If left untreated, the front surface of the eye can be damaged, and vision may become impaired.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

As we get older, the glands around our eyes sometimes produce less tears. Any of the three components of our tears may be out of balance, causing them to evaporate too quickly.

This can also happen due to medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. Dry eye can also occur because of medications like antihistamines, decongestants and antidepressants.

Those who live in windy or dry climates can struggle, too. If you live in dry places like San Antonio, tears evaporate more quickly.

Smoking can also increase risk as well as staring at computer screens too long. Extended contact lens wear is also shown to be a significant contributor to dry eye.

How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

At South Texas Eye Institute, testing for dry eye is part of our eye examination process. After talking about your health history, and lifestyle, we will check your eye health.

This includes measuring the quantity and quality of your tears. Through this process, we can determine if you have dry eye syndrome.

If we diagnose you with dry eye, we will then recommend treatment options to reduce your symptoms.

How Is Dry Eye Treated?

There are several treatments available for dry eyes. All dry treatments aim to restore or maintain a normal amount of tears, including:

• Preservative-free, over-the-counter artificial tear solutions to supplement natural tear production. Preservative-free drops have fewer additives, which tend to irritate the eyes.

• Tear duct plugs. Your ophthalmologist inserts silicone plugs so tears remain in the eyes longer.

• Increasing tear production. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can prescribe drops to help you produce more tears.

• Fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil can improve the quality of your tears.

• Turn off the fan. Sleeping with a ceiling fan can contribute to dry eye symptoms. Instead, opt for a humidifier and/or use a noise machine if you need the hum to fall asleep.

Thinking of getting LASIK? You can still be a candidate for LASIK or other refractive procedures, even if you have dry eye.

In fact, studies show that dry eye symptoms can actually get reduced by LASIK over time. To find out more, contact South Texas Eye Institute today to request an appointment!