Have you ever thought about how often you blink and why? Scientists have found that the average person blinks 15–20 times per minute. This means we spend about 10 percent of our waking time with our eyes closed (source). In healthy eyes, blinking replenishes the tear film, which is made of water, fatty oils, protein, electrolytes, and other substances that fight off bacteria (source). However, if you are experiencing dry eye syndrome, your eyes might feel constantly dry and gritty, no matter how many times you blink. Keep scrolling to learn more about the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, and contact your ophthalmologist to receive help.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome
What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is a condition that occurs when your eyes are unable to produce enough tears to remain lubricated and healthy. Since tears are crucial to protect the surfaces of your eyes, this syndrome can impact your vision. Dry eye syndrome is a common and sometimes chronic condition, but luckily there are plenty of ways to comfortably live with the issue.
There are several reasons why your eyes could be feeling dry for a short period of time. Exposure to cigarette smoke, allergies, old contact lenses, and staring at a computer screen for too long can take a toll on your eyes. Other factors, like age and gender, can put you at a higher risk for experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome. For example, a 65-year-old woman is more likely to have dry eyes than a 25-year-old-man, because dry eyes are a natural part of aging, and hormones impact your tear production.
If you are having issues with dry eyes, it could be a sign of a larger health issue, like graves ophthalmology, a hormonal imbalance, a vitamin A deficiency, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or blepharitis. In addition, certain medications, long-term use of contacts, and LASIK surgery can decrease tear production.
If your eyes are not producing enough high-quality tears, you may experience a wide range of symptoms. These symptoms include burning, itching, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, a heavy and achy feeling, eye redness, or feeling like there is something stuck in your eye. Oddly enough, watery eyes can also be a symptom of dry eye syndrome. When your eyes are dry, your tear ducts can begin to overproduce the watery component of tears. However, without the fatty oils and protein, the tears won’t coat the eye long enough to correct the dryness.
Living with Dry Eye Syndrome
Although dry eye syndrome is often chronic, practicing self care and seeking help from your ophthalmologist will make living with the condition easier. Prescription and over-the-counter tear solutions can keep your eyes feeling comfortable and healthy, and some prescriptions can even increase high-quality tear production. In severe cases of dry eye syndrome, you can even get silicone plugs for your tear ducts, which will keep natural tears in your eyes longer.
If a certain medication is causing your dry eye syndrome, your doctor might recommend switching prescriptions. If an underlying health issue is to blame, your eyes may feel better after you receive medical treatment.
There are also some simple lifestyle changes you can make to ease the symptoms:
- Use a humidifier to keep the air around you moist.
- Try to limit your screen time.
- Avoid cigarette smoke.
- Switch contact lenses regularly.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get treated for allergies.
- Remember to blink often.
- Protect your eyes from the sun and wind with large sunglasses.
- Take nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids.
If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome, visit an ophthalmologist to avoid long-term damage. With a little help, you can protect your eyes and enjoy long-lasting comfort.
Are you looking for an optometrist in southwest Missouri? Visit one of our experienced optometrists at Heffington’s. Since 1975, the Heffington family has been assisting the Springfield community with top-quality eye care and affordable eyeglasses and contacts. One of the unique features of our family-owned business is that we manufacture lenses at our own laboratory, giving us total control over the service and pricing, and we’re happy to pass our savings on to you. To learn more about our products and services, please get in touch with us online, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 417-869-3937 (Optiland location) or 417-882-3937 (House of Vision location). We look forward to hearing from you!