A walk down any pharmacy “eye aisle” with a complaint of dryness can be a little overwhelming. There are many different options, and their differences speak to the diversity of reasons one may be experiencing ‘dry eye’ in the first place. Consequently, some seem more “effective” than others.
The basic story of dry eye syndrome is in the name, though its medical term – keratitis sicca – won’t tip you off in the same way. When the surface of the eye lacks moisture and lubrication due to a shortage of tears, we experience it as dryness and irritation, sometimes accompanied by redness and itching. Ironically, watery eyes, triggered by an overproduction of the watery part of your tears to protect the eye, can also be a symptom of dry eye. Finding the best remedy depends on unlocking the reasons and conditions of one’s own dry eye – the underlying causes.
What’s Causing Dry Eye? :
Let’s start with that life nourishing fluid - our tears. In addition to embarrassing us in sappy movies and connecting us to the well of human empathy, tears also clean and moisturize our eyes while providing them with enzymes that neutralize their indwelling microorganisms. While generally most dry eye is a factor of either the lacrimal gland under producing tears or the meibomian gland reducing[L1] oil output ( or clogging) which then leads to over-evaporation of tears, what loosens or tightens the faucet, so to speak, varies greatly. It can be a result of menopause,LASIK surgery, a[L2] side effect of medications, or a product of living in a dry, dusty, polluted, or windy city, such as Las Vegas or Tucson. It can be an alarming indicator of Sjogren’s Syndrome lupus[L3] , rheumatoid arthritis, or ocular rosacea if occurring alongside other issues. As if that wasn’t daunting enough diagnostically, dry eye is also linked to long hours at the computer, extended contact lens wear, smoking, and seasonal allergies. It could be a combination of things, as well. If you find yourself in a rare spell of dry eye, some over the counter drops may be just what the doctor ordered; however, if it is a chronic issue, it may require some deeper investigation, or lifestyle changes, such as installing an air filter or taking more breaks from the electronic devices.
Much Ado about Drops:
“Artificial tears,” which are the most common eye drops, come in two varieties – with and without preservatives. If you are struggling with a more severe case of dry eye and using them multiple times a day, it is recommended that you use those with fewer additives. Some artificial tears will also include electrolytes to help balance the tear composition for the surface of the eye, and your ophthalmologist or optometrist may prescribe eye drops which tackle inflammation. Do be aware, when contemplating your options, that many eye drops that focus their pitch on “reducing redness” are not as helpful in providing moisture. Though they may be a good solution if you have a big meeting to appear presentable for, your eyes can acquire a tolerance to the eye-whitening vasoconstrictors in these red-eye fixes which can lead to more redness in the long term. If you wear contact lenses, make sure to remove them before using the eye drops and wait 15-20 minutes before putting them on again.
In general, eye drops make your eyes drier by washing away the natural lubricants your eyes produce.
Check with your Ophthalmologist:
If dry eye is a troubling reoccurrence, make the time to discuss possible causes with your eye doctors[L4] . He or she may recommend nutritional supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids Theralife Eye oral capsules, and more.. The two of you can also plan a long term strategy that identifies and addresses your unique factors.
Emily Hunter crafts content on behalf of the eyecare specialists at Eyecare 20/20. In her spare time, she cheers for Spirit of Atlanta, Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment, creates her own sodas, and crushes tower defense games. Follow her on Twitter at @Emily2Zen