Tears play a vital role in the health and function of our eyes. That’s what makes dry eye such a serious problem.
Tears serve as our eyes’ first line of defense against irritants like dust and germs, washing them away with every blink. They also enable our eyes to turn and swivel comfortably. When the tears run dry, our eyes are left itchy, irritated, red, and sometimes swollen. Millions of adults in the US alone suffer from dry eye. So why does this happen and what can we do about it?
Causes Of Dry Eye
The tear film in our eyes has a specific composition, consisting of an outer oily layer, a watery layer, and a mucous layer. There are several ways it can be disrupted, each resulting in dry eye. The overall tear production can decrease, tear evaporation can increase due to a disruption of the oily layer, or the composition can become imbalanced. These problems can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Medications like antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, birth control pills, and others
- Advancing age
- Autoimmunie disorders
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy and after menopause
- Dry, windy, or smoky environments
- Seasonal allergies
- Long periods spent staring at a screen, which can reduce blinking frequency
Relief For Dry Eyes
Whatever the cause is behind dry eye, it’s important to treat it so that it doesn’t have a chance to get worse. Dry eyes are more vulnerable to getting scratched and infected, and without enough tears, vision can become blurred. If your dry eye is the result of too much screentime, try to take frequent breaks and remember to blink normally.
For other causes, artificial tears (eye drops) are a great solution. You can also incorporate more foods rich in Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, such as liver, carrots, broccoli, fish, and walnuts. These are important nutrients for eye health and tear production. You might also want to switch from contact lenses to glasses.
Check out this video for a great tip on stimulating tear production at home:
Your Optometrist Can Help!
Your best chance of getting your tears flowing again is to come see your local Vision Source® member optometrist so that they can determine the cause of your dry eye and find the treatment that will give you the best results. They can also make sure that the dryness hasn’t led to additional complications.
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