You rub and you rub and you rub. Your eyes just feel so itchy, and they’re always so red. Sometimes you wake up in the night and it feels like there’s something in your eye, and you’ll stand at the bathroom mirror for half an hour looking for whatever it might be that’s causing all the irritation. but you find nothing and wonder if you’re just imagining things.
Well, you’re not just making things up. Those symptoms are indicators of something called dry eye syndrome, and it’s a very common problem that affects the lives of millions of Americans.
In addition to the symptoms already mentioned, other indicators that you could be suffering from dry eye can include a sensitivity to light, difficulty wearing contact lenses, blurred vision, overly watery eyes (which could be the body’s reaction to your dry eyes), eye fatigue, or a stringy form of mucus in and around the eyes.
If you have dry eye, it could be from a number of possible causes.
The first is that your body’s natural system for creating tears has some kind of imbalance. Your tears aren’t just saline, as you might hear in an old love song. Tears are made up of a mixture of water, fatty oils, mucus, and special proteins that help protect your eyes from infection. When you are not creating an adequate amount of natural tears to lubricate and protect the eye, you will begin to see some of the previously mentioned symptoms. As you age, the delicate balance of the substances needed for tears can be altered, leading to dry eye.
Another possibility for causing dry eye is medications you could be taking for any number of medical conditions. Medications from antihistamines to decongestants to antidepressants and even birth control pills can cause dry eye as a side effect. It’s also possible that drugs for more severe medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and high blood pressure can cause dry eye conditions.
Women are more likely than men to develop dry eye. If you’re pregnant, you also face an increased risk of dry eye because of the hormonal changes your body will undergo during pregnancy. The hormonal changes to your body when you go through menopause can also be a contributing factor to the development of dry eye.
Environment can also be a major factor in the development of dry eye. If you’re working in an environment that contains a significant amount of smoke (especially cigarette smoke), you can find yourself dealing with dry eye on a regular basis. If you work outdoors in an unusually dry environment or in extremely windy conditions, you can run the increased risk of dry eye.
You can also develop dry eye if you’re someone who uses your computer too much. If you stare at a screen for prolonged periods of time, you will blink less than if you were doing some other activity. Less blinking means that fewer tears will have the opportunity to lubricate and protect the eye.
Inflammation in the eye can also cause ongoing issues with dry eye. In those cases, it’s helpful to visit your eye doctor for a test such as the InflammaDry test to see if the cause is inflammation. If so, your eye doctor can place you on a program of anti-inflammatories for treatment.
Regardless of the reason, dry eye is a condition that can have a very negative impact on your life. Dr. Silverman and the team at OCLI are ready to help you fight dry eye and help you find restful nights, clear-eyed days, and no more rubbing and rubbing your eyes. Contact OCLI today to find out how we can help you.