What Causes Dry Eyes?
There are numerous causes and risk factors that contribute to the development of dry eye syndrome.
Activities That Cause Dry Eye:
When you stare at something you tend not to blink as frequently, and the lack of blinking actually causes the eyes not to replenish the tears often.
The main component of tears is water. Most of us don’t drink enough water. If you are dehydrated or not drinking enough, then you may not produce enough tears to keep your eyes moist. Snapple, Coke and other caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea may feel like they quench your thirst, but they actually dehydrate the body. Your body needs water to prevent dry eyes symptoms.
Environmental Factors and Dry Eye:
Environmental conditions can also play a role in dry eye syndrome. Exposure to cigarette smoke, dry air and pollen are also common dry eye causes.
Medications and Dry Eye:
Speaking of which, certain medications are known to contribute to dry eyes; in particular, allergy medication. Especially pervasive at this time of year, the use of Claritin or other antihistamines to control eye allergies or systemic allergies, will often lead dry eye symptoms.Another widespread type of medication that can certainly cause dry eye symptom is beta blockers used for blood pressure.Women that are on antigen therapy are likely notice symptoms of dry eyes. They tend to have a lot more irritation.
Age and Dry Eye:
Hormonal changes can cause dry eyes; women especially over 50, and men as they age in general, are more prone to developing dry eye symptoms.
Systemic Diseases and Dry Eye:
Rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome, which is a common symptom that rheumatologists treat, can also contribute to dry eyes. Diabetics or those with Glaucoma that requires medication are more likely to have dry eye syndrome.
Headaches and Dry Eye:
I recently came across an interesting study about the correlation between migraines and dry eyes. They looked at 33 migraine sufferers and compared them to 33 people without headaches. The results showed greater prevalence of dry eye in the migraine group than in those without headaches. So, researchers are speculating that some migraines may worsen when dry eye symptoms are present. Another study I read recently looked specifically at office work and hypothesized that headaches that people complain of are really being caused by dry eyes. However it is unclear whether one causes the other, or whether computer use is a contributing cause of both headaches and dry eyes.
Blepharitis and Dry Eye:
Another very common cause of dry eyes that we are seeing more and more is something called blepharitis, or meibomian gland dysfunction. That is inflammation of the lid glands that allow produce the oil in the tear film. Over time, those glands that line the lids can get clogged and the oils in your tear film don’t flow on top of the tear film to protect it.
People suffering from meibomian gland dysfunction are producing tears, but they’re evaporating too quickly. So in between blinks, the tear film is just drying up or breaking down. Some suggest that many years of staring at a computer screen increase the prevalence of chronic blepharitis. In the past, people with this condition were unable to wear contact lenses. However, with the many contact lenses now available, we might be able to help you go glasses free.
Common Treatments for Common Causes
- One of the most common treatments we recommend is simple. Just BLINK! Blink regularly. Good, hard, fully closed blinks help restore the tear film.
- During heavy computer use, every 20 minutes, look down or close your eyes for a few minute, to give your eyes a rest.
- Drink water. Regular, bottled water is best. Avoid caffeine. Women need at least 91 oz. of water a day. Men need even more.
- Vitamins, particularly Omega 3, have been shown to decrease dry eyes. Fish and flax are good natural sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 is also available in tablet form.
- If using a medicine that is known to contribute to dry eye, like antihistamines or beta blockers, it’s important to combat dry eye with over the counter tear drops.
- Heat helps relieve dry eye symptoms associated with Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD and Blepharitis,
Dry Eye Exam With Dr. Ben Pezik
Seventy percent (70%) of people with dry eye don’t ever see an eye care professional. But the majority of those who “self-treat” are not successfully managing their dry eye symptoms. It’s worth coming in for an eye exam so we can help you treat dry eyes more effectively, especially since over half the people suffering from dry eye might actually have blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction and they often don’t respond well to over the counter eye drops. There are different methods that are most effective for treating different types of dry eyes. Now, when you come into the office, we’ll be able to do a thorough examination and to evaluate that.
Eye Exam for Dry Eyes
When we see patients in the office we have begin by having the patient fill out a history form. There’s also a discussion kit developed by Allergan. During the exam, we ask about the dry eye symptoms and other questions that give us insight into the potential causes of dry eye, and find out what – if any – self-management has been done up until now to try to treat dry eye. Then we work together to coordinate the best treatment plan.
We do a very thorough examination. We spend a lot of time evaluating the tear film, looking at the different layers of the tear film. We measure the quantity and evaluate the quality of the tears produced by the eye, paying particular attention the oil produced in the tear film.
Ultimately, we try to diagnose what type of dry eye you have; whether it’s the evaporative, or whether it’s mucus deficient or water deficient. Then we develop a treatment plan based on different methods that we use to treat different types of dry eyes.
Do you suffer from Dry Eye Symptoms?
Call our Wasaga Beach office or schedule an eye exam with Dr. Ben Pezik today!
The Beach Eye Care clinic is conveniently located in the Stonebridge Town Centre to serve the Georgian Bay including Wasaga Beach, Collingwood, and Barrie.