Dry eye is a common condition that involves a lack of healthy and adequate tears, resulting in significant, sight-impeding discomfort. Studies have indicated that more than 7 million American adults over age 40 have some form of irritated vision due to dry eye syndrome, also known as chronic dry eye. Additionally, research suggests around 15% of adults age 65 or older experience regular symptoms of eye dryness.
Dry Eye Symptoms
While most people contend with occasional dehydrated eyes, recurrent symptoms can be signs of a more serious issue, one that hinders everyday life and may lead to a "dry eye syndrome" diagnosis. Symptoms of chronic dry eye, which are typically apparent in both eyes, include notable redness and blurry vision. Scratchy and/or stinging sensations are commonplace, as is general eye fatigue. Another symptom is watery vision, despite the fact that the condition often involves insufficient tears; tear glands may reflexively but intermittently produce excess moisture in an attempt to hydrate the eyes.
What Factors Cause Dry Eyes?
One of the most common dry eye causes may be overall body dehydration. Research has linked inadequate whole-body hydration with dry eye. Infrequent blinking may also lead to eyes that lack necessary moisture, particularly for those who use computers or play video games for extensively, since every blink assists in spreading tears across the surface of the eye. Reduced blinking is also commonly seen in people with Parkinson's Disease.
Dry eyes can additionally stem from conditions in the environment such as an arid climate, high winds and certain forms of indoor cooling and heating systems. Allergic reactions to various plants and animals or irritants such as dust may also worsen symptoms, along with some conventional medications like antihistamines.
Health conditions connected to dry eyes include Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that results in dehydrated eyes and mouth; recurring inflammation, particularly around the tear glands; and hormone changes that are related to thyroid problems, pregnancy and menopause.
How to Relieve Dry Eyes
A simple way to aid dry eye relief is to maintain optimal hydration in the entire body by drinking enough water every day. Since millions of Americans are already chronically dehydrated, those prone to eye dryness should make sure to meet the general guideline, which is to drink at least an eight-ounce glass of fluid eight times daily.
Other basic steps towards prevention and relief include consciously remembering to blink more often, especially when in front of a computer or TV screen, and increasing the humidity in home and work environments with a humidifier or vaporizer. Wearing sunglasses while outside may also help to shield eyes from the drying effects of the sun and wind.
Dry eye relief products include artificial tears and lubricating drops, as well as gel and ointments. While these may work relatively fast, their effects are only temporary, and some feature preservatives that may cause further worsen eye irritation. Those who use these products should seek out preservative-free versions. Since gels and ointments are thicker and may cause blurred vision, they are best applied at bedtime for overnight use.
Small punctal plugs, commonly made of silicone or dissolvable materials, are another variety of dry eye treatment. These pliable plugs are placed into the drainage ducts (lacrimal canaliculi) of the eyes to support tear retention. Research has indicated that this straightforward and reversible clinical procedure has beneficial effects, though it can make the tear film thicker.
Supplements formulated for dry eye relief are natural treatments that work on a nutritional level to support the entire tear film. These products typically address the irritating inflammatory response that accompanies dehydrated eyes, while helping to stabilize the moisture-maintaining tear film.
Among the most popular dry-eye-relieving nutrients are:
Although chronic dry eye syndrome affects millions of Americans, those coping with this issue have many options available to relieve this uncomfortable issue. By finding suitable treatments, healthy and well-hydrated eyes can be readily within sight.