Feeling Hung Out to Dry? Dry Eye Syndrome Defined. Plus, Tips and Treatments

A condition characterized by dry eyes might not sound serious at first, but anyone who's had to live with dry eye syndrome knows better. It can be debilitating. Whether the feeling is fleeting or chronic, dry eyes can effect everything from daily tasks to relationships, and even the ability to think through simple problems.

Cut and Dry

Not surprisingly, dry eye syndrome is defined by the National Institutes of Health as the condition of improper tear production, or incorrect consistency in composition of tears. When produced normally, tears are made up of three elements: a lipid layer of oil from the meibomian glands, a watery layer from the lacrimal glands, and a layer of mucous made from the goblet cells in the conjunctiva. Tears are crucial to a healthy eye and uninterrupted vision, since they contain proteins, electrolytes, and vitamins that nourish and hydrate.

Hung Out to Dry

Not sure whether your condition is Dry Eye Syndrome? A quick check at the symptoms may help:

  • Feeling of foreign irritant in eye
  • Overcompensation of tear production - excessive watery eyes or tears
  • Itchy eyes, redness
  • Blurred vision

Eyeing the Options

Treatment depends on exactly what is causing your dry eyes. Are your tear glands producing less than needed? Or are those tears draining too quickly? Perhaps the composition of those tears allows for premature evaporation from the surface of your eye. Once the cause has been determined, another mystery lies behind it: Have the tears become insufficient because of hormonal changes? Environmental changes? Work habits? Medication interference? The possibilities vary, so Woodhams has opened a special clinic specifically for patients with dry eyes. The technology on site takes the guesswork out of the causes behind dry eyes, giving you and your doctor a clear map for effective treatment.

Treatment options usually depend on the cause, once it's determined by your eye doctor. Some risk factors (like your gender or age) cannot be managed. Others though, are within your influence, putting you in control:

  • Avoid cigarette smoke and dusty places.
  • Improve your diet. According to the Mayo clinic, more omega 3's and less caffeine may go a long way in giving your eyes what they need to produce balanced, functional tears.
  • Use a humidifier during seasons of low humidity.
  • Keep air from blowing on your face. Direct your car's air vents away, and let your hair air dry after a shower instead of blow drying.
  • Give your eyes a break during computer work or driving. Any activity that requires your full attention usually means less blinking, and that can aggravate dry eyes.

If your dry eyes are not caused by diet or environmental factors, your doctor may offer a medical device such as tear duct plugs or prescription for eye drops or supplements to help you cope.

Don't Wait Until the Well Runs Dry

If you have a high pain tolerance, you may be tempted to put off an appointment, since dry eyes are not always an urgent feeling medical condition. But do not delay.

Quality of life is directly related to eye health. When you needlessly suffer with dry eye syndrome, you'll inevitably miss out on the enjoyment of things you used to love, like hobbies, outings and family events. Don't let this treatable condition go any longer than it needs to.

Would you like to talk to someone about your dry eyes? Enter your information below and one of our patient care advocates will reach out to you or you can call us at 770-394-4000.

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