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Dry Eyes: What you need to know

Did you know tearing can be a sign of dry eyes? Patients often say “my eyes can’t be dry, I am tearing all the time”. This is a common misconception about dry eyes.

There are two main reasons your eyes can be dry. Either you are not producing enough tears, or the tears you are making don’t have the proper components. This can lead to the symptoms of dry eyes: burning, foreign body sensation, tearing, and/or blurred vision. Your body might be making enough tears, but if they don’t contain the proper layers, your eyes will still be dry and your body will try and compensate by making more tears which can lead to constant tearing.

There are several causes of dry eyes.

1) Age: As we age our eyes can produce less or poorer quality tears.

2) Gender: Women tend to have more issues with dry eye, especially with hormonal changes.

3) Medications: Over the counter medications like anti-histamines and decongestants can cause increased dryness, as can prescription medications, such as blood pressure or anti-depression medicines.

4) Medical conditions: All autoimmune disorders, such as Lupus or Rheumatoid arthritis can increase risk of dry eyes, as well as other medical conditions like Diabetes and thyroid issues. Also, LASIK or other ocular surgeries, as well as prolonged use of contact lenses can increase risk of dry eye complaints.

5) Environmental: Dry conditions and high altitude can contribute to dryness symptoms. Also, prolonged screen time and computer use can decrease blink responses which can aggravate dry eyes.

There are many treatments for dry eyes, but the proper treatment(s) depend on the cause of the dryness. Artificial Tears or lubricating eye drops (not Visine or Murine or any type of drops that “get the red out” as these can increase the risk of dryness) should be used frequently. Hot compresses to the lids can increase natural tear production. Diets rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as keeping hydrated can reduce symptoms of dry eyes.

I can also prescribe eye drops that can help you make more of your natural tears or place small plastic plugs in the drainage system of your eye to keep your natural tears in place. Also, an ophthalmic exam can diagnose other lid abnormalities that can contribute to your dry eyes.

Please call Dr. Leslie Moskowitz-Elfenbein, MD, Medical Ophthalmologist at Gunnison Valley Health to schedule your complete eye exam and to evaluate and treat your dry eye symptoms. Click here to schedule your complete eye medical exam call 970-642-4816.