Dry Eye Awareness Month
Learn everything you need to know about this common eye condition.
Dry eyes are one of the most common eye conditions, impacting many people every year. The exact number of Americans who experience some degree of dry eyes is disputed, but almost everyone agrees that the figure is well into the millions. The organization Prevent Blindness has named July Dry Eye Awareness Month to spread knowledge about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this disorder. To acknowledge this occasion, check out the summary of dry eyes below and be sure to bookmark this page for future reference.
Dry Eyes: An Overview
The surfaces of our eyes are covered by what is called a tear film, a multilayered structure of natural fluids. Tear film protects our eyes from foreign irritants and provides them with much needed lubrication. If our eyes fail to produce an adequate amount of fluid, or this fluid cannot be retained for whatever reason, then the tear film becomes unable to provide effective lubrication, resulting in dry eyes.
Causes of Dry Eyes
Dry eyes are caused by any source of disruption to our tear system. Environmental factors that deprive our eyes of moisture – such as wind, low humidity, air conditioners, and heaters – often lead to dry eyes. Certain medications have eye dryness as a side effect (e.g., antihistamines, beta blockers, pain killers). Age is also a major factor. Since we begin to produce less tears over time, dry eyes become more common as we grow older, with most cases occurring in people over the age of 50.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
The main symptoms of dry eyes are redness, itchiness, and a gritty sensation similar to having sand in your eyes. Some people experience blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and even a burning feeling. These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and create the urge to rub your eyes, which can transfer germs from your hands to your face and lead to infection. For contact lens wearers, these symptoms are often exacerbated due to the irritation caused by the direct contact between your lenses and your eyes.
How to Treat Dry Eyes
The key to treating dry eyes is to restore lubrication. This is best achieved by applying special eye drops known as artificial tears, which are available over the counter at most pharmacies. If your condition is more severe, then a professional eye doctor can supply more effective treatments, including prescription medicine, tear duct plugs, and even surgery. In some situations, the condition causing dry eyes – whatever it may be – would have to be resolved before the dryness will go away.
Make protecting your eyes a priority this July (and beyond) by defending yourself against dry eyes and other disorders that may affect your vision. When navigating options for prevention and treatment, do not hesitate to visit your local Sterling Vision office for a consultation. To schedule an appointment with us, call 541-262-0597 or schedule online.