One of the most common problems among younger and older individuals is dry eyes, which typically gets worse in the winter months. Its symptoms include redness of the eye, itching, irritation, a foreign body sensation in the eye, light sensitivity, and blurry vision. Some people describe the blurry vision as intermittent, where it gets worse with excessive computer work and reading, but improves after blinking and resting for a bit.
There are many reasons for dry eyes, some of which include contact lens wear, aging (especially post-menopausal women), prior eye surgery (including LASIK), eye trauma, certain medications (such as anti-allergy medications), eyelid inflammation, thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders (such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus), to name a few. Other natural factors that may cause dry eyes include dry weather, snow, factors within the house such as ceiling fans and heaters. Excessive reading and computer work, in addition, subconsciously prevents an individual from blinking enough, thereby leading to dry eyes.
Due to the prevalence of this simple but irritating ocular disorder, there are various things that can be done:
- Use over-the-counter artificial tear eyedrops and ointments on an as needed basis.
- Use omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to promote tear production.
- Avoid over wearing contact lenses, and NEVER sleep with them in your eyes.
- Wear sunglasses with excessive sunlight (summer) and snow (winter) conditions.
- Consider home humidifiers by the bedside in the winter time as the heater is on.
- Take breaks at work while working on the computer.
- If there is an underlying disorder such as arthritis or thyroid disease, make sure that it is under control.
- There are, of course, other treatment options including prescription medications, such as Restasis, and placement of punctal plugs in the eyelids, which is a painless and quick procedure performed in the office.
- Avoid aging, which unfortunately does not work very well as a viable solution!!!
With the cold months upon us make sure to stay clear of dry eyes with these tips. Sign up for a consultation to learn more, and get checked up before the holidays!