Understanding Dry Eye
Many who live in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys are familiar with the common symptoms of dry eye disease such as redness, irritation, and chronically feeling like something is in the eyes. Other common symptoms, although classic, are not usually associated with having dry eye disease. These symptoms include excess tearing and fluctuating vision. Excess tearing is commonly reflex tearing associated with the irritation caused by dryness. Fluctuating vision is also a hallmark for dry eye disease.
The tear film that coats the front part of the eye is the most important layer for good vision. This tear film is composed of multiple components but the most important component is the oily layer that is produced by glands in the eyelids. Over the years, some or many of these glands can die off and other glands can become obstructed. This leads to an abnormally thin and unstable tear film causing blurred or fluctuating vision and other symptoms of eye irritation. Fortunately there are many things we can now do to improve the function of these eyelid glands and improve your vision quality and the comfort of your eyes.
What Causes Dry Eye?
Age – Dry eye is a part of the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eye.
Gender – Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives, and menopause.
Medications – Certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce the amount of tears produced in the eyes.
Medical Conditions – Persons with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.
Environmental Conditions – Exposure to smoke, wind, and dry climates can increase tear evaporation. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.
Other Factors – Longterm use of contact lenses can be a factor. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can cause decreased tear production and dry eyes.
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