Relief for Dry Eye Syndrome
You don’t need us to tell you that winter in Michigan means dealing with harsh dry air. Unfortunately, that type of environment doesn’t just make your skin flaky, it can also leave your eyes feeling dry and irritated. This condition even has a name – Dry Eye Syndrome – and according to the American Optometric Association, it’s when you have insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish your eyes. Not only is it uncomfortable, it can also lead to lasting vision problems if left untreated.
What causes dry eyes?
Although the majority of people who experience chronic Dry Eye Syndrome are over the age of 65, younger people are susceptible too. Risk factors include:
- Environment – In addition to winter air, smoke and wind can also dry out your eyes.
- Gender – Due to different hormones, women are more likely to experience dry eyes than men.
- Medications – Antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications have been known to reduce the amount of tears your body produces.
- Medical conditions – Michiganders with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid issues are likelier to experience dry eyes more frequently.
- Screen time – Staring at a computer for too long without blinking regularly can also contribute to symptoms.
How can I treat my dry eyes?
One of the most common ways to treat mild cases of dry eyes is over-the-counter eye drops. For more chronic conditions, your optometrist can prescribe treatments to keep your eyes more comfortable, healthy, and to help prevent future vision issues. These include:
- Blocking tear ducts – You can close up tear ducts with tiny, removable silicone or gel-like plugs. They keep tears in the eyes longer and reduce symptoms.
- Medication to increase tear production – Your optometrist can prescribe special eye drops that boost tear production. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have also been found to help.
- Treating eyelid inflammation – If you have swelling around the eyes because of Dry Eye Syndrome, you may be recommended to try prescribed eye drops or ointments, warm compresses, lid massages, and eyelid cleaners to help improve symptoms.
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Photo credit: domber42