If you are a sufferer of dry eyes, you will be familiar with the uncomfortable feeling they can cause and the general irritation of your day-to-day life. Understanding the exact causes for dry eyes, and discovering the best solutions, can help you eradicate or lessen the problem of dry eyes as best you can. This can let you get on with life without being held back by discomfort, pain, or distress.
What are the common symptoms of dry eyes?
You may not even realize that you suffer from dry eyes yourself. The common symptoms include:
- A stinging or scratchy sensation in your eyes
- A feeling as though there is something in your eye
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Redness around the eyes
- Watery eyes, caused by your body reacting to the irritation
- A difficulty with wearing contact lenses
- Eye fatigue or blurred vision
What causes dry eyes?
Essentially, dry eyes are caused when your body fails to produce an adequate number of tears. The function of tears is to help make the surface of your eye smooth and clear, as well as protecting your eyes from infection.
Decreased tear production is the most common reason why you might be suffering from dry eyes. Common causes of this include:
- Natural aging process
- Medical conditions that exist already, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and a deficiency in Vitamin A
Increased tear evaporation, on the other hand, is a dominant cause of dry eyes. Unlike the more natural reasons for dry eyes, tear evaporation is usually related to lifestyle habits and circumstances. For example, exposure to wind, smoke, or dry air can cause increased tear evaporation. Cold, windy, and dusty conditions can also increase the causes of dry eyes.
In particular, if you are regularly in an air-conditioned or heated environment, this could affect your eyes’ dryness.
Similarly, if you work in a job that involves looking at a screen throughout the day, this could be affecting your eyes. Spending long periods of time looking at a screen and concentrating usually results in blinking less because you are set on a particular task. Individuals who spend a large percentage of their time driving may also find they suffer from dry eyes. Reading for long periods of time is another common culprit for dry eyes. Any of this sounding familiar?
Those most at risk:
- For people aged over 50, it is common for dry eyes to become more of a concern.
- Women generally suffer more from dry eyes, as hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, birth control pills, and menopause can result in dry eyes.
- Certain medicines can also result in dry eyes, such as prescriptive drugs such as antidepressants or blood pressure drugs.
- Smoking and drinking alcohol also play their part! The smoke from cigarettes can be damaging over time, and the dehydration caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can have a knockback effect on your tear production over time.
Another common cause is simply the fact that you may have an imbalance in tear composition. Your tears are made up of three separate components; these are oil, water, and mucus. If there is an issue with the production of these components, this can impact the tears’ effectiveness.
How can it affect my day to day life?
As tears form a protective layer from the outside world and your eye, an increased chance of infection is possible if your tear production isn’t adequate. Similarly, there can be long-lasting damage to the surface of your eyes if dry eyes are left untreated.
On a more basic level, dry eyes can prevent you from completing normal tasks to the best of your ability, such as work or reading, and the symptoms of dry eyes can be painful and frustrating to deal with every day.
What Are The Solutions?
Fortunately, having dry eyes don’t have to hold you back. Even if you suffer badly from dry eyes, there are some simple ways you can prevent it from causing you too much frustration. The following tips and tricks can stop your dry eyes from distracting you or causing you unnecessary pain.
- Good eyewear – Good eyewear is essential for those who suffer from dry eyes. As a leading cause of dry eyes is contact lenses, avoid this irritation altogether and give your eyes a rest from light sensitivity with a pair of good quality, protective lenses. Safety shields on top of sunglasses may be an option and find eyewear that blocks a high UV rays percentage. You can also find frame options designed to keep out the wind and the dust, other irritants that will only make your dry eye problems worse.
- Have frequent breaks from your computer – Taking frequent breaks from your computer is a simple way to stop dry eyes from becoming too much of a problem. A common practice suggested by eye care experts suggests the 20-20-20 technique, where, every 20 minutes, you look at an object that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a rest from looking at the same screen all day.
- The same should be applied for any long task that involves long periods of concentration, where you will end up blinking less by default. Frequent blinking or even closing your eyes can give them the rest they need. Your computer screen stays below eye level. If it is above, your eyes will work harder to view the screen in its entirety. Position your screen so that your eyes don’t need to open as wide to see the screen.
- Eyedrops are a simple but effective way to rid yourself of dry eyes, as they will lubricate the eye and help them from feeling too irritated.
- Keeping your eyes clean in general is essential as this will lessen the irritation and soreness.
- Removing eye makeup properly is another easy way to keep your eyes from becoming too irritated. Eye makeup can clog the glands at the base of your eyelashes, which can lead to an evaporative dry eye. Removing all traces of makeup can prevent the substances from doing too much damage over time.