Tears are vital for having clear vision and maintaining the health of the cornea. When you don’t have enough quality tears to keep your eyes moist and provide nourishment, you develop a condition known as dry eye. This eye condition is common.
Experts believe that everyone at some point in their lives suffers from dry eye. Exposing your eyes to wind and dry climatic conditions can cause dry eyes. However, some people develop dry eye due to other reasons, including:
The risk of developing dry eye increases in older adults. Studies show that people over the age of 60 have a higher likelihood of developing dry eye symptoms.
Exposure to dry climates, wind, and smoke can cause tears to dry up quickly, resulting in dry eyes. People who spend a lot of time in front of a computer can also experience dry eye symptoms.
Having dry eyes could be an indication of an underlying medical problem. Dry eye is a common symptom for conditions such as thyroid problems, diabetes, and arthritis. People who wear contact lenses can also develop dry eye symptoms.
Some medications can reduce the production of tears as a side effect. These include antidepressants, blood pressure medication, decongestants, and antihistamines.
Due to hormonal changes, women are more likely to develop dry eyes than men.
Several tests and procedures are used to determine the cause of dry eye. Common tests used to diagnose dry eye symptoms include:
The eye doctor collects tear samples to look for decreased lactoferrin or matrix metalloproteinase-9, which are clear markers for dry eye.
Eye doctors use this type of test to measure the composition of water and particles in your tears. Having less water in your tears is a clear indication of dry eye.
This type of test determines the quality of your tears. Special eye drops are used to measure how long before your tears can evaporate.
Eye doctors use the Schirmer test to measure the volume of tears your eyes can produce. A blotting strip of paper is placed under the lower eyelid and removed after a few minutes to determine the volume of your tears.
Everyone should schedule a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. Doctors check your overall eye health and use your medical history to diagnose the cause of your dry eyes.
Mild dry eye symptoms are treated using over-the-counter teardrops. Other treatment options are applied when the dry eye symptoms are more serious and persistent. Before deciding the treatment option that is best for you, the eye doctor first tries to treat any underlying cause of dry eye. For example, if some medication is causing your eyes to dry, your doctor may recommend another type of medication.
Common procedures used to treat dry eyes include:
Use of eyelid cleaners
Warm compressions on the eyes
Saving tears by blocking the tear ducts
Adding artificial tears through special teardrops
To learn more about diagnosing and treating dry eye, contact Atlanta Eye Group at our offices in Atlanta, Alpharetta, or Kennesaw, Georgia. You can also call us at (770) 727-0772 to book an appointment today.