Dry eye is a common reason patients come to see us at Vision Source Family Eye Care. While frustrating, this condition is treatable! Our St. Marys, Brunswick, and Jesup optometrist team would be happy to help you or your loved one get some answers and find relief from your dry eye symptoms.
What is Dry Eye?
Under normal conditions, your eyes are covered by a thin film of tears produced by small glands near your eyes. Tears are made of oil, water, and mucous and help wash away foreign objects, prevent infections, and keep the surface of your eyes lubricated, clear, and smooth. Blinking helps refresh this important tear film. Excess tears pass through small drainage ducts in the corner of your eyes and flow into your nasal passage.
Dry eye develops when there aren’t enough tears to moisturize, protect, and nourish your eyes. This can happen for one of two reasons:
A person doesn’t have enough tears, either because not enough is produced or because they evaporate too quickly
A person doesn’t produce good quality tears
Causes of Dry Eye
Dry eye is more common in older adults, making advancing age a common risk factor for dry eye syndrome. Other potential causes or risk factors include:
Autoimmune conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis
Dysfunction of special structures near the eyes called meibomian glands, which normally produce oil that prevents tears from evaporating too quickly
Other underlying health conditions including thyroid disorders or even vitamin A deficiency
Environmental exposure to wind and cold or dry climates
Allergies to pollen, dust, pet dander, cosmetics, or smoke
Certain medications, like antihistamines, birth control, and antidepressants
Wearing contact lenses for too long
Surgery on the eye, such as LASIK (in this case, symptoms are often temporary)
Infrequent blinking, which may occur while using digital devices or even as a result of certain health conditions like Parkinson’s disease
Is it Dry Eye? Common Signs and Symptoms
Dry eye symptoms can be incredibly disruptive and uncomfortable. The signs and symptoms may include:
Eyes that are red, itchy, dry, or swollen
The sensation of burning, stinging, or grittiness in the eye
Watery or mucous-like discharge from the eyes, which can often dry and leave a hard crusty residue on eyelids and lashes
Increased sensitivity to bright lights
Depending on the underlying cause or causes of dry eye, you may notice your symptoms getting worse or better depending on the time of day or year. We know it’s tempting to rub or itch your eyes—but please don’t! You could accidentally scratch your corneas or bring bacteria to your eyes.
How Our Brunswick Optometrist Team Treats Dry Eye
Because dry eye can be caused by a number of different factors, the specific dry eye treatment you need might be different from someone else. Our Jesup, St. Marys, and Brunswick optometrist rely on years of clinical experience and advanced training to help determine the ideal selection of services that will help you find relief.
Most of our patients with dry eye benefit from one or more of the following treatments:
Over-the-counter eye drops (“artificial tears”) that temporarily restore moisture to the eyes
Medicated eye drops that help increase tear production or reduce inflammation
Techniques to block tear ducts and therefore conserve your natural tears, such as the insertion of removable gel-like plugs or a surgical procedure to permanently close the ducts
At-home symptom relief techniques, including eyelid hygiene, warm compresses, avoidance of known irritants (e.g., closing windows on high pollen days), and eyelid massage
According to the American Optometric Association, improving your diet and adding certain supplements like omega-3 fatty acids may also increase your natural tear production and enhance overall eye health!
We want you to know that at our optometry clinic, dry eye treatment goes beyond symptom relief. By asking about your personal and medical history and thoroughly examining your eyes, we help you figure out and address the root causes of your symptoms so you can enjoy more sustainable relief.
Frustrated by Itchy Dry Eyes?
Contact Vision Source Family Eye Care today to connect with an optometrist in Brunswick, Jesup, or St. Marys GA, and discover real solutions to your uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. You can even schedule an appointment online. We look forward to serving you!