Have you experienced redness, irritated and sometimes, watery eyes after a day’s work? Well, these are the symptoms of dry eyes.
Dry eyes are caused by lack of lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eyes. You suffer from subtle but constant irritation to inflammation of the front tissue of the eye.
In medical term, dry eyes are called keratitis sicca, which means decreased quality or quantity of tears.
Other than redness and irritation, persistent dryness, feeling of scratchiness and burning sensation are other common symptoms of dry eyes. Some sufferers of dry eyes feel that there is something in their eyes. This symptom is known as “foreign body sensation”.
Meanwhile, dry eyes can cause a person to experience watery eyes. This happens when the dryness on the eye surface overstimulated the production of watery component of your tears as protective mechanism.
The causes of dry eyes include natural aging process in women; side effect of many medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, certain hypertension medicine, Parkinson’s medicine and birth control pills.
If you are living in a dry, dusty or windy climate, you are also prone from developing dry eyes. Likewise, insufficient blinking due to too much staring at the computer monitor all day can cause dry eyes. Air-conditioning or dry heating system contributes to dry eyes, too.
Who are at risk?
Anyone can develop dry eyes. However, have you noticed that many sufferers of dry eyes are women?
Women are more prone to develop it than men because their hormones fluctuate especially as they age. According to National Women’s Health Resource Center, approximately 6 million women have moderate to severe symptoms of dry eyes, as compared to men counterparts, which has 3 million.
Pregnant women, women who are on certain type of birth control or those who are in menopause stage have increased likelihood to develop dry eyes. Even women who are on hormone replacement therapy are likely to experience dry eyes symptoms. Meanwhile, women who take estrogen are 70 percent more likely to experience dry eyes as compared to those women who take estrogen and progesterone have 30 percent increased risk of developing the aforementioned condition.
Wearers of contact lens are also at risk of developing dry eyes. Recent research indicates that contact lens wear and dry eyes can be a vicious cycle. When someone gets dry eyes, it makes contact lenses feel uncomfortable. In addition, moisture evaporation from contact lenses worsens dry eyes. That is why it is recommended changing to newer contact lens and lens care products to prevent dryness due to wearing of contact lens.
Smokers are also prone to develop dry eyes. Women who undergo blepharoplasty, a popular cosmetic eyelid surgery to enhance one’s appearance are complaining of having dry eyes too. Dry eyes are associated with incomplete closure of eyelids following such procedure.
Dry eyes can be prevented. Here are suggested ways to get rid of dry eyes.
- Take eye breaks during long tasks. If you are reading or doing task that requires visual concentration, take periodic breaks. Close your eyes for a few minutes or blink repeatedly for few seconds to help spread your tears evenly over your eye.
- Avoid air blowing directly in your eyes. Do not direct hair dryers, car heaters, air conditioners or fans toward your eyes.
- Be attentive to your environment. The air at high altitudes, desert areas and airplanes can be extremely dry. If you are in any of this environment, it will help to frequently close your eyes for a few minutes to minimize evaporation of your tears.
- Position your computer monitor below eye level. Putting your computer screen or monitor at this level won’t cause your eyes to open wider. It will help slow the evaporation of your tears between eye blinks.
- Stop smoking and avoid smoke. Consult your doctor to help you to quit the bad habit. If you are a non-smoker, stay away from people who smoke. Smoke aggravates dry eyes.
- Always bring your eyedrops with you. This is essential to those persons with chronic dry eyes to keep their eyes well-lubricated.