When your eyes feel gritty it’s often due to an eyelash, a speck of dust, or a grain of sand getting caught in your eye. When this discomfort persists without an apparent reason, you could be experiencing dry eye.
Left untreated, dry eye isn’t just uncomfortable, but it can permanently damage your cornea. If you have dry eye, your eye doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear.
What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a common problem caused either by insufficient tears or poor tear quality. Every time you blink, you leave a thin film of tears over the surface of your eyes. This helps keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear. If your tears don’t keep the surface of your eye moist enough, you will experience dry eye.
Symptoms of dry eye include:
- Irritation- a gritty, scratchy or burning sensation
- Blurred vision
- Excessive tearing
- A feeling of something being stuck in the eye
Causes of Dry Eye
There are many things that can cause dry eye:
- Medical conditions - Dry eye is more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, Sjogren's syndrome, diabetes and several other conditions.
- Environmental factors - Wind, smoke, and dry air can all cause your tears to evaporate.
- Insufficient blinking - staring at a computer screen or a book for long periods of time can cause the eyes to blink less frequently.
- Medications - Antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, and decongestants can cause a reduction in tear production.
- Ageing - As people get older they are more prone to dry eye. Women tend to be more affected than men.
- Eyelid Conditions - Insufficient oil production from the glands in the eyelids or misshapen eyelids can lead to poor tear quality.
- Hormonal changes
Relief from Dry Eye
As with any other form of eye discomfort, your first stop should be your eye doctor, who will thoroughly examine your eyes and eyelids to identify the underlying problem. If dry eye is suspected, your doctor may decide to assess the quality and quantity of your tears.
Depending on the exact cause of your dry eye, your doctor may prescribe artificial tears or prescription eye drops, or discuss a range of in-office procedures to address moderate to severe dry eye caused by your eyelids. Your eye doctor may also recommend wrap-around glasses to protect your eyes against irritants. Blinking more regularly, staying hydrated, and placing a humidifier in your home or office might also help.
After your initial appointment, you will want to schedule a follow-up appointment to make sure the methods you have tried are working and to prevent the progression to advanced dry eye. Advanced dry eye can cause damage to your cornea and, potentially, vision loss.
If you are experiencing eye discomfort, visit Offen Eye Associates to have your eyes examined and receive effective, lasting treatment.
Offen Eye Associates Dry Eye Center serves patients from Westfield, Piscataway, Metuchen, and Springfield Township, all throughout New Jersey.