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.

Do Computer Glasses Really Work?

Over the last couple of years, you may have noticed an uptick in people talking about computer glasses, or eyeglasses that are designed to filter out blue light from computer screens, smartphones, and tablets. Some people believe that blue light can lead to dry eyes, digital eye strain, and even permanent eye diseases down the road.

But is blue light actually dangerous? And are computer glasses worth it?

As it turns out, there is no evidence that looking at a computer screen is unsafe. A study conducted in 2015 found no measurable UVA or UVB radiation from computer screens, two forms of radiation known to cause eye problems. Another, more recent study published in the journal Ophthalmology found that the worldwide increase in nearsightedness is notbecause of blue light as previously believed, but because of an increase in near work activities — including traditional books.

Because of this, the Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend special eyewear for computer use.

How can I reduce eyestrain?

If computer glasses don’t relieve dry eyes or digital eyestrain, what does?

Symptoms of eyestrain include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Sore, itchy, or burning eyes
  • Sore muscles in the neck, shoulders, or back
  • Increased light sensitivity

To avoid digital eyestrain, we recommend practicing the 20-20-20 rule. If you’re performing near work (i.e., reading, using the computer), take breaks every 20 minutes to look at an object that’s 20 feet away. Focus on it for 20 seconds before returning to your task.

Computer glasses can help you sleep

Although computer glasses don’t help with eyestrain, they canmake it easier for you to fall asleep at night. In a 2009 study, participants who wore blue-light blocking lenses three hours before bedtime experienced better sleep quality than those who didn’t. A 2015 study found similar results.

How do computer glasses help you sleep? Blue light can alter your circadian rhythms, making it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Doctors recommend avoiding electronics in the hours preceding bedtime. Because this isn’t always feasible, computer glasses may serve as an alternative.

Should I buy computer glasses?

If you’re hoping to avoid eyestrain, there are better ways than purchasing a pair of computer glasses. If you’re trying to avoid insomnia, however, they might be a worthwhile investment.

Intermountain Eye Centers is happy to answer any questions you might have about your vision and eye health. Contact us today at 208-489-6525 to set up a comprehensive eye examination.