Rubbing, blinking, and itching are the three constants when it comes to having dry eyes. If regular eye drops don’t help, it might be time to visit an expert. Dry, irritated eyes can be a sign of poor tear production, and leaving your eyes chronically dry may make you vulnerable to inflammation and infection.
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, and Sarah Quan, OD, can help identify and treat the cause of your dry eyes.
Common causes of dry eyes
Tears are more than just water. They’re made with water — or aqueous fluid — mucus, and oil. Water provides hydration, oil slows down evaporation, and mucus protects the surface of your eyes. Your eyes need all three of these in correct amounts so they can function well.
If there’s an imbalance in your tears, this can lead to problems. For example, if there’s a blockage in the oil glands around your eyes, this can lead to a decrease in oil production, which could cause your tears to evaporate too quickly. Or, if your eyes don’t produce enough water for your tears, this could lead to a decrease in tear production.
Dry eye disease can develop in anyone, regardless of their age or occupation. However, certain environmental and lifestyle factors could put you at a higher risk of developing dry eye disease, including:
- Looking at a screen for hours every day
- Working in an air-conditioned or heated room
- Spending time outside in the wind
- Taking certain medications
- Wearing contacts for long periods of time
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
- Being over age 50
Treating dry eyes
The most common treatment for chronic cases of dry eye disease is using prescription eye drops. Many over-the-counter eye drops can hydrate your eyes and reduce inflammation, but you might need prescription-strength eye drops to stimulate tear production.
Warm compresses, eyelid cleaners, and massages can help unclog oil glands and encourage the production of higher quality tears. If your dry eye condition is severe and resists these treatments, you might be eligible for surgery to correct the issue.
Over time, chronically dry eyes can lead to permanent damage, often caused by prolonged inflammation or infection. If your dry eye symptoms are extensive, your provider might recommend amniotic membrane treatments to heal the surfaces of your eyes.
Do you often have painful, itchy eyes? Learn more about your treatment options by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Harlem VistaSite Eye Care today.