Have you ever woken up and you can barely open your eyes? It stings so badly that you’d prefer to keep them shut. When you finally peel your eyelids back it feels like you’re in the middle of a sandstorm, and you have to wipe away some invisible film clinging to the surface of your eyes.
This is what it’s like to struggle with dry eye syndrome, or chronic dry eye.
Most people experience dry eyes when air in their environment is artificially dry, or when they slow their blinking. Situations where you might experience dry eye include sitting on a plane under an air vent, focusing on a computer screen for a long time and blinking less often, or working outside on a windy day.
Infrequent dry eye symptoms are normal, but when dry eyes persist it could indicate a chronic condition. Many factors can contribute to chronic dry eye; prescription medication side-effects, overuse of diuretics, and even age are all possible causes of dry eye syndrome. Sometimes the cause of a case of dry eye syndrome can’t be determined, but there are still ways to keep your eyes well-lubricated and pain-free.
- Control your environment. This is the simplest way to combat dry eye syndrome, because in many cases you can take steps on your own to make sure your environment is as eye-friendly as possible. Avoid areas with smoke or high winds, and wear wrap-around sunglasses if you will be outside. If your house is dry, use humidifiers in high-traffic areas.
- Use artificial tears. There are entire aisles dedicated to artificial tears in drugstores and supermarkets, and with good reason. Artificial tears are a great way to augment your eyes’ own tear production. Of course, all that choice means it might take some searching to find the artificial tears that are just right for your case. Talk to an eye doctor for an educated recommendation.
- Learn about prescription options. The causes of dry eye syndrome can often be treated with prescription medication, and your eye doctor will work with you to find out which treatment is best. The variety of prescription options is wide and includes oral medications, medicated eye drops, and more specialized solutions.
- Conserve your tears. Tear ducts can be artificially closed to help maximize use of the tears your eyes produce. Sealing tear ducts ensures that tears won’t drain away as quickly. This option requires a quick surgical procedure, and seals can be made either permanent or temporary.
- Ask about eye therapies. There are a number of eye therapies available today, ranging from eye massage to thermal pulse therapy. These therapies are often designed with a specific cause of dry eye in mind, though, so you’ll need to consult an ophthalmologist to determine if therapy will be effective.
Chronic dry eye doesn’t have to define your life. All it takes is an ounce of prevention and maybe a little help from your eye doctor to keep your eyes working comfortably. Dry eye is a complex problem, though, so it’s always best to consult a qualified physician like the ones at Griffin Eye Clinic before attempting a treatment on your own.