The other day I just could not work on the computer. My eyes were hurting and I simply could not focus on anything.
I had this problem for the last few weeks but just ignored it thinking I was working too hard, but today it was just unbearable. My eyes were red, they were painful and I had blurry vision.
The doctor took one look and said I had dry eyes and I needed treatment ASAP. I panicked but then he said that there was no cause of panic and that proper treatment would help me get rid of the problem.
So I asked what are dry eyes?
It’s a condition where the eye is not able to produce enough tears or the tears produced evaporate quickly and cannot lubricate the eyes. For clear vision, the front surface of the eye needs to remain healthy and tears help maintain them. Dry eye is a common problem in adults which can become chronic if not attended to.
Symptoms of dry eyes:
- An itchy or scratchy feeling similar to when something is in your eye
- There is a burning or stinging sensation in your eye
- Your eyes have strings of mucus around it
- You have red eyes and it increases when you are in a dusty place or around cigarette smoke
- Wearing contact lenses is painful for you
What could cause dry eyes?
- Dry eyes are a natural part of the aging process. People aged above 65 are more prone to it. Long-term use of contact lenses and LASIK surgery could also contribute to the decreased tear production, which in turn could cause dry eyes.
- Women are more prone to dry eyes due to hormonal changes due to pregnancy and oral contraceptives.
- Medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid problems are more likely to develop symptoms of dry eyes.
So the next question that pops into your mind is how will your doctor find out if you indeed have dry eyes?
Your doctor will run you through the following tests to confirm and find the cause of your dry eyes. This will help him determine the treatment.
- A thorough eye exam: The doctor will check your eyes along with your overall health to diagnose what could be causing dry eyes.
- Testing the quality of your tears: Special dyes are used in eye drops to test the surface condition of your eye. Your doctor checks for the staining patterns in your corneas and then determines how long it takes for your tears to evaporate.
- Determining or measuring the volume of your tears: Your doctor might put blotting paper under your lower eyelids and measure the amount of tears soaked in five minutes. This test is called the Schirmer test.
After confirming that you have dry eyes your eye doctor will chalk out a treatment plant for you.
Treatments for Dry Eyes include:
Artificial Tears: If you have a mild case of dry eyes then you can use eye drops for temporary relief. Eye drops prescribed by your eye doctor will help lubricate your eyes.
Temporary Punctal Occlusion: Your doctor may temporarily plug the duct which drains tears from your eyes. If this solution works then your doctor may opt for permanent plugs.
Lipiflow: This is a medical device that uses pressure and heat to unclog the blocked glands. Once unblocked your tears will not evaporate.
Restasis or Xiidra are drops that help kick start your daily tear production.
Warm Compresses: This is more comfortable than some of the other procedures. Warm compresses are applied on closed eyelids for a minimum of 10 minutes at a temperature of 108 Fahrenheit twice a day.