Dry eyes are the result of your tears not working properly, resulting in a burning or stinging sensation, and accompanied by blurriness, redness, and sensitivity to light. But what causes tears to not work properly?
- Poor viewing habits (reduced blinking from staring at screens)
- Hormonal changes (especially for women)
- Not enough fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids) or vitamin A
- Autoimmune diseases
- Environmental factors (like dust or dryness)
- Overuse of contact lenses
- Physical defects of the eyelids (loose or drooping lower lids)
- Other personal habits (like smoking or not drinking enough water)
Treating Dry Eye
Treatment generally depends on the reason for your dry eyes, but generally includes:
- Artificial Tears (in the form of over the counter drops)
- Medicated Drops (prescribed by your doctor/optometrist)
- Taking Contact Lenses seriously and wearing them properly
- Lifestyle Changes (drinking more water, less smoking, more omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A)
- Limiting Screen Time (to ensure proper blink rates)
- Warm Compress (to open up the glands in the eyelids that produce and support tears)
- Surgery to rectify lid abnormalities
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why does “screen time” cause dry eye?
A: Staring at the small information on screens causes us to hyperfocus, reducing our blink rate by 67%!
Q: I’m constantly tearing up, so why do I have dry eye?
A: Your tears have 3 layers:
1) The watery part we normally associate with tears,
2) A mucous layer that causes the water to stick to the eye, and
3) A fatty layer that keeps the tears from evaporating off the eye.
If the glands that produce the fatty layer are compromised, your tears will evaporate too quickly before they can be effective. Your body compensates by generating more water, but unfortunately it just doesn’t do the trick without the fats.
How can I find out more about my dry eye?
The best thing to do is to have your eyes examined either by an Optometrist or Optician who fits contact lenses. They will examine the structures of the eye to determine the root cause of your dry eye and prescribe the appropriate course of action or refer you to a specialist for further investigation.
Image Credit: The Mayo Clinic