Everyone gets dry eyes from time to time, but chronically dry eyes often signal a larger problem to do with the health of your eyes. If you find yourself with red, itchy, dry eyes, identifying the underlying cause and finding a treatment protocol that works is important, which is where we come in.
At Vision and Ortho-K Center, under the expert guidance of optometrist Dr. Curtis Frank, we understand the impact that dry eyes can have on your life, from discomfort to vision issues, and we offer a number of solutions.
The following is a look at some of the potential causes of your chronically dry eyes, and more importantly, what we can do about them.
Behind your dry eyes
Your eyes require constant lubrication and hydration to function well, which is provided by your tears. Under normal circumstances, your tears contain three ingredients that work in concert to lubricate and protect your eyes.
These ingredients include:
The water component in your tears, which is produced by the lacrimal glands in your eyelids, is not only necessary for hydration, but it also helps flush out your eyes to keep debris at bay.
To keep the water in your tears from evaporating too quickly, your meibomian glands produce oils, which seal in the water on the surface of your eye.
This last ingredient in your tears helps spread water across your eye. The mucus is produced in your conjunctiva.
When you have dry eyes, it’s usually because of an imbalance in these ingredients, which can stem from any number of problems.
For example, if your meibomian glands are clogged, oil isn’t getting into your tears, which means there’s nothing keeping the water on the surface of your eyes from evaporating. Or you may have dry conjunctiva, which means it isn’t producing enough mucus. Another common problem are drainage ducts that clear away your tears too quickly.
There are many reasons why these conditions can develop, from pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes or allergies to simple aging. Luckily, we have a number of solutions that will help alleviate your dry eyes.
Managing your dry eyes
When you come in, we sit down with you to review your symptoms, as well as any environmental, health, or lifestyle considerations that may be causing your dry eyes. Once we identify where the problem lies, we form an appropriate treatment plan, which may include:
- Artificial tears
- Unclogging your meibomian glands
- Omega-3 supplements
- Punctal occlusion to block your drainage ducts
- Restasis® eye drops to increase tear production
In addition to these treatments, we recommend a few lifestyle changes that can help manage the condition, including:
- Avoiding prolonged screen time
- Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from wind and sun
- Setting up a humidifier in your house during drier seasons
- Steering clear of smoke (whether it’s yours or someone else’s)
- Taking breaks to rest your eyes
- Blinking more often
- Treating your allergies
These tips, along with our treatments, go a long way toward eliminating the frustration and discomfort that comes with chronically dry eyes.
If you’d like to explore your options for dry eyes further, please contact our office in Boston, Massachusetts, to set up an appointment.