Why Are My Eyes Dry? A Brief Introduction to Dry Eye.

Dry eye is a common condition, affecting at least 6.8 percent of the U.S. adult population. If you’ve been experiencing dry, scratchy eyes lately, you might be one of them.

Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • A stinging, scratchy, or burning sensation in your eyes
  • Feeling like something is stuck inside your eyes
  • Excess watering, or tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness

These symptoms can vary from person to person and don’t necessarily predict the presence and severity of dry eye disease. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your ophthalmologist.

So why are my eyes dry?

Healthy eyes are constantly producing tears to keep themselves lubricated. When eyes fail to produce these tears – or produce the wrong kind of tears – dry eye symptoms can arise.

There are multiple factors that can result in dry eyes.

Aging

Tear production often diminishes with age – in fact, most people over age 65 have at least some symptoms of dry eye. Hormones associated with menopause can also trigger the condition.

Tear Quality

Tears are composed of oil, water, and mucus. Oftentimes, people with dry eye disease have difficulties producing the water layer of their tears, resulting in tears that evaporate too quickly or fail to spread evenly over the cornea.

Medications

Medication can often influence the eye’s ability to make tears. Antihistamines, decongestants, oral contraceptives, blood pressure medications and antidepressant can all diminish tear production.

Environment

Heaters, air conditioning units, and smoke can all cause tears to evaporate quickly, resulting in dry eye symptoms. Computer use is another common culprit of dry eye, since focusing on a screen can prevent people from blinking regularly.

Other Diseases or Disorders

Other illnesses can affect the eye’s ability to produce tears including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid conditions.

What should I do if I have dry eyes?

If you suspect you have dry eyes, you should meet with your eye doctor to rule out other conditions.

Dry eye disease is typically chronic, with symptoms that come and go over time. Treatment for dry eyes includes artificial tears, prescription eye medications, and in-office procedures. Lifestyle changes – for instance, reducing the amount of time you spend on the computer – can also help reduce the discomfort of dry eyes.

Intermountain Eye Centers offers multiple treatments for dry eyes, as well as comprehensive eye exams to rule out any other conditions. For more information about how we can help your eye health, contact us today.

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Vision

It’s a new year! Have you figured out your resolutions yet?

Below, we’ve listed five resolutions you can follow for better eye health. Which of these can you see yourself accomplishing in 2019?

  1. Wear sunglasses

Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory – they’re also an important way to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful radiation. While most people understand that excessive sun exposure can be dangerous for skin, fewer are aware that UV rays can damage your vision as well.

According to the National Eye Institute, an estimated 20% of cataracts are caused by extended UV exposure. UV exposure may also increase the risk of developing macular degeneration (a serious eye disease that can result in blindness) or pterygium (a non-cancerous growth within the eye).

When you purchase sunglasses, make sure they block 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Other sunglasses might look nice, but they won’t protect your eyes.

  1. Wear protective eyewear

If you plan to participate in any home improvement activities this year, protective eyewear is a must. Woodworking, glass cutting, and many other projects can result in flying debris that can become lodged in the eye. Welding goggles are necessary during metal-working to avoid retinal burns.

When it comes to protective eyewear, accept no imitations. Most protective eyewear lenses are made from polycarbonate, a material that is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Regular glasses, swim goggles, and other makeshift solutions can shatter if they’re damaged, causing even more damage to your eyes.

  1. Quit smoking

If you smoke, 2019 is the perfect year to quit. Not only does smoking harm your lungs, but it also significantly increases your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. Compared to non-smokers, smokers are up to four times more likely to develop this condition – and smokers who have a genetic predisposition to AMD are up to 20 times more likely!

People who smoke alsodouble their risk for developing cataracts, uveitis, and dry eye syndrome. Smoking while pregnant can result in numerous fetal and infant eye disorders including strabismus (crossed eyes) and underdevelopment of the optic nerve, a condition that can result in blindness.

  1. Practice good contact lens hygiene

This year, take some time to make sure that you’re practicing proper contact lens hygiene. The American Optometric Association (AOA) published several recommendations for good lens hygiene including:

  • Wash and dry your hands before handling contact lenses
  • Replace your lens case at least every three months
  • Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule
  • Remove contact lenses before swimming or using a hot tub

People who fail to follow these recommendations are at risk for developing a contact lens-related eye infection like keratitis. Some infections can be so severe that they require surgery to correct.

  1. Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

Many common eye diseases – for instance, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic eye disease – have no early symptoms. By the time symptoms emerge, your vision may be damaged permanently. The only way to guarantee that your eyes are healthy is by receiving yearly comprehensive eye examinations.

If you’d like to schedule your yearly comprehensive eye examination, contact us at Intermountain Eye Centers today.

Our staff at Intermountain Eye Centers is always willing to discuss ways to keep your eyes healthy. Contact us today to learn more or set up an appointment!