Chronic dry eye is a condition that occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears, leaving you to experience itchiness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, irritation, and many other symptoms. It is caused by a number of different things such as environmental factors like excessive heat or wind and even taking certain medications or suffering from various illnesses can contribute to dry eye.
One of the most common reasons for chronic dry eye these days is spending too much time staring at computers, TVs, cell phones, and tablets, and if it isn’t treated at all or if it’s treated improperly, it can lead to eye infections or even other vision problems. There are many treatments for chronic dry eye, most of which you will need to speak to your eye doctor about, but you can also use artificial tears or try eye vitamins designed to keep eyes and vision healthy and strong.
Who is Most Affected?
Millions of people in the United States are affected by chronic dry eye and women make up the majority of those millions. For a variety of reasons, women suffer with this condition more often than men do. Oftentimes, chronic dry eye in women is brought on due to hormonal changes such as menopause, pregnancy, and just getting older.
However, according to a survey that was conducted by Prevention magazine with the assistance of Allergen, Inc., the most common reason for chronic dry eye in women presently is extended use of computers and other electronic devices.
The survey recorded responses from 507 women and it was determined that at least one of the dry eye symptoms were present in 55 percent of the women after using computers for an extended amount of time. The survey results also showed that about 66 percent of those women use computers more now than they did five years ago.
It’s probably safe to assume that the majority of the millions of Americans who suffer from dry eye also use computers more now than they did in the past as well, but only a handful of people are receiving treatment for their dry eye symptoms from their eye doctors. In fact, 42 percent of the women included in the survey aren’t even relieving their symptoms at home with artificial tears or eye drops and 53 percent of the women haven’t ever talked about the issue with their doctors.
The realization that so many people who are suffering from chronic dry eye aren’t seeking any kind of treatment for it has brought up some major concerns among healthcare professionals and it has become more obvious to them that chronic dry eye is becoming a serious problem.
Importance of Seeking Treatment
Neglecting to seek treatment through a doctor for chronic dry eye can lead to more serious eye health and vision issues. It can cause the surface of the eye to become damaged, it can worsen vision, and it can lead to a higher chance of developing eye infections.
Modifying things in your life such as cutting back on computer and electronic use and using over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears can relieve some of the symptoms of dry eye temporarily, but for a more permanent solution medical treatment is necessary.
There are a variety of treatment options available such as blocking the tear ducts with removable silicone plugs to prevent tears from draining from your eyes. Another option would be to have surgery to close the tear ducts permanently. Both of these options will keep the tears in your eyes for a longer period of time which will improve your dry eye condition.
A milder option would be to increase your eye’s tear production by using special eye drops prescribed to you by your doctor. In addition, including nutritional supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids will also aid in increasing tear production.
Then there are much simpler treatment options used to reduce the inflammation in the eyes such as soothing your eyelids with warm compresses and massages, using anti-inflammatory ointments and eye drops, or even using eyelid cleaners.
At-home Treatments to Use
Finally, there are things you can do at home to help reduce the severity of your dry eye symptoms. When you are using the computer or doing any type of reading, be sure to blink frequently as this will help to keep your eyes moist and will reduce eye strain. You can also increase the humidity level in your home and wear sunglasses when you’re outside to protect your eyes from the sun and winds.
Increasing your omega-3 intake by either taking supplements or eating more foods that contain omega-3s will also help to reduce your dry eye symptoms. In fact, you can improve your overall eye health by increasing your intake of certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs that are essential for maintaining good vision and strong, healthy eyes.
One last thing you can do to improve your dry eyes is to make sure to stay hydrated by drinking eight to 10 glasses of water every day. If you aren’t drinking enough water on a daily basis, your eyes won’t be able to produce the tears that are needed to keep them moist, and your body in general will not function properly either.