Dry Eyes: Causes and Treatments

dry eyesIf you’ve ever had dry eyes before, then you know that having dry eyes can be quite a frustrating situation. Sometimes the problem can be as simple as a foreign object that can be easily removed or allergies that can be remedied with medication. However, sometimes the underlying issue is with the eye itself. This condition is called keratoconjunctivitis, or more colloquially known as dry eye.

The underlying problem of dry eye is an inadequate amount of lubrication on the eye. The eye needs this lubrication to maintain proper health as well as visual acuity. This lack of lubrication is usually caused by one of two problems, the first and most prevalent of which is an inadequate amount of lubrication. It’s common for people to experience some form of dry eye as they age as the tear glands that supply the lubrication for the eye tend to be able to produce less tears as the glands become older. Sometimes the lack of lubrication can be a side effect of medication.

There are also environmental factors to consider – if exposed to very dry or windy climates, the tear glands may not be able to keep up with the demands of the eye for proper lubrication. More often than not, this particular cause of dry eye can be remedied by applying artificial lubrication to the eye in the form of eye drops. However, in some cases it may be necessary to resort to more stringent methods such as using prescription eye drops to stimulate increased tear production, plugging the tear glands to conserve tears, or supplementing your diet with omega-3 fatty acids (as they are essential in the process of tear production).

The other main cause of dry eye is that the quality of lubrication is insufficient for lubricating the eye. Tears are made of three components – oil, mucus, and water. When the tear glands produce lubricant that’s deficient or in surplus of any of these components, it can lead to dry eye. The best way to treat this type of dry eye is with specialized eye drops that can mitigate the lack or surplus of the components of the lubricant.

Your optometrist can help you to determine the best course of action and how to best treat your dry eyes.

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