Dry Eyes – Causes, Symptoms, And Solutions
Dry eyes ruining your days (and nights)?
It might sound like a simple, trivial matter, but anyone who’s experienced it knows it’s a quite serious and disturbing problem. So yes, we understand how you feel.
Dry eyes not only make you feel uncomfortable by irritating your eyes but also interfere with your vision.
Some of the questions you might ask are – what causes dry eyes? How can I fix my dry eyes? And so on.
This post is dedicated to dry eyes. We’re going to explore the symptoms associated with the dry eye syndrome, the possible causes, risk factors, and the treatment and home remedy options available.
By the time you’re done reading this guide, you should be able to pinpoint the cause(s) of your dry eyes and know what fixes you’re going to try.
Let’s jump in.
Before we even go into the causes, signs and remedies of dry eyes, we’d like you to know what your tears are made of, and why they’re important. After all, is it not the insufficiency of tears that creates the dry situation?
So, your tears contain:
Let’s see the importance of these ingredients.
As you can see, tears are pretty important. And there’s another crucial purpose that your tears have – keeping your eyes clean. You might have noticed that every time a dust particle comes into contact with your eyes, lots of tears are released quickly. That’s in an effort to get rid of the foreign substance, and it works.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
You could be asking – so when can I say that I am suffering from dry eyes? Well, here are a few signs to look out for:
Now that you know how to identify dry eyes, let’s see what causes them.
Causes of Dry Eyes
Basically, if you have dry eyes, that means you have inadequacy of tears. That could be as a result of less tears being produced. Or, it could be that your tears are evaporating too quickly. Still, there could be an imbalance of your tears’ makeup.
Another situation that can cause dry eyes is the presence of an underlying medical condition like diabetes or arthritis.
Without further, let’s delve into the main causes that you know.
Less production of tears
Ever heard of sicca syndrome? That’s the term given to the condition of not being able to produce adequate tears.
You might have noticed that as people grow older, their eyes get drier. Why is it like that? Because with age, tear production decreases. Moreover, the makeup of the tear film experiences changes, making it unable to lock in the moisture as well as before.
Remember, older people are more susceptible to chronic illnesses like diabetes, rheumatism, and arthritis, which have been showed to cause dry eyes. In women, the hormonal changes that occur during menopause might interfere with the production of tears, leading to dry eyes.
Medication side effects
According to Mayo Clinic, the following drugs/medical procedures might disrupt your tear production process, causing dry eyes:
More evaporation of tears
There are various situations/things that might cause your tears to evaporate faster than normal from your eyes. They include:
Changes in the makeup of your tears
As mentioned earlier, tears are mainly made of water, oil and mucus. If any of these main constituents has a problem, you might end up with dry eyes.
For instance, if you have an inflammatory condition affecting the edges of your eyelids, it might block the little ducts through which the oil comes. If the blockage happens, there’s little oil to hold the moisture, and dry eyes result.
Hormonal changes are also known to interfere with the composition of tears, causing dry eyes.
For someone that has diabetes mellitus, getting dry eyes at some point is almost unavoidable. First of all, diabetes mellitus makes you pass urine very frequently, thereby losing water can happen at a high rate unless you keep hydrated.
As water is needed for tears production, low water levels lead to dry eyes.
The second way that diabetes causes dry eyes is through nerve damage. You see, the lacrimal glands, which secretes tears, is regulated by the brain, through pathways that involve nerves.
The high blood sugar levels, associated with diabetes, might damage nerves. And if the nerves going to/from the lacrimal gland are damaged, that interrupts with the feedback loop, and in the process, less than necessary tears might be produced.
Before we go into the relief/treatment options available for dry eyes, you might want to know the risk factors involved. Let’s discuss them a bit.
Risk Factors for Dry Eyes
Treatment options for Dry Eyes
If your symptoms are only mild, you could just try some home remedies. But if your dry eyes are affecting you a lot, are accompanied by other symptoms like pain or underlying medical conditions like diabetes, or if it’s a persistent situation, then it’s wise to see a medical expert immediately.
In this section, we’ll look at the treatment options and then delve into some effective home remedies.
When you visit a doctor, the first thing they’ll do is a diagnosis to find out the causes of your symptoms. The test could involve:
After that, the doctor will recommend or execute the appropriate treatment plan.
Treatment options could be:
Before we move onto the home remedies for dry eyes, there’s something we’d like you to note about OTC eyedrops/ointments.
There are two types of OTC eyedrops:
Eyedrops versus ointments – when purchasing, you can go for either eyedrops or ointments. Here’s the difference:
With that aside, let’s now look at the home remedies you can try for dry eyes relief.
Home Remedies for Dry Eyes That Work
So, if your symptoms are not severe, or if you’re looking for a way to manage your dry eye condition at home, here are several relief measures you can try:
Oil producing glands are located at the edges of your eyelids. Thus, if your eyelids are suffering from an inflammatory condition, the glands could get clogged, meaning oil will not get released efficiently, and thereby leading to a dry eye condition.
But, with a warm compress, you can unclog the glands and solve the issue or alleviate it.
Just boil some water and soak a soft towel in it. After wringing it out, close the affected eye and gently press the wet towel on the eyelids. Press for a minute or so, then remove it and wet it again before repeating the process a bunch of times.
The heat and the moisture evaporating from the towel will loosen the glands and help oil to reach your eyeball.
As you saw earlier, failure to blink can cause dry eyes. This happens especially when you’re concentrating, like when reading, driving, or working in front of a PC.
So, try to consciously blink when doing these activities. That will distribute the tears properly and keep your eyes from drying.
Ever heard of the 20/20 rule? After every 20 minutes of reading or working in front of a computer, close your eyes for 20 seconds.
Hack: avoid looking up to your computer or TV. Set it at a place where you’re looking down at it; not up. That way, you’ll not have to open your eyes very wide, and thus your tears will not evaporate as fast.
Avocados contain healthy fats, which have been shown to boost the manufacture of oil in the eye’s glands. And it’s not just avocados; anything that is a source of healthy fats. That includes:
Drink more fresh water
A large portion of tears is made of water. That means your body needs water to make tears. If there’s water insufficiency in your body, then dry eyes are likely to happen. So, drink plenty of water every day. If dry eyes is an issue you’re trying to deal with, don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water.
At least 8 glasses of water should be enough. Watermelons and other water-rich foods should also be at the top of your menu.
Put on sunglasses
As discussed earlier, wind is one of the causes of dry eyes. By blowing against them, it makes the tears evaporate at a faster rate. To deal with that, wear sunglasses or normal reading glass when going outside your house.
And when you’re at home, ensure the air conditioner doesn’t blow air towards your eyes.
Castor oil drops
If you have castor oil at home, you can put a drop each eye to prevent drying. The oil works by locking in the moisture in your eyes and reducing its evaporation.
Before you go, you might want to look at the possible complications that might arise from dry eyes, as well as some of the frequently asked questions about dry eyes.
What Complications Can Arise from Dry Eyes?
If your dry eyes go untreated, here are some of the complications you may face:
Remember what we discussed about the composition of tears? Your tears contain natural antibodies. These help fight off infections that might affect the eyes or even gain entry to your body. With a persistent dry eye condition comes the risk of getting infections.
Tears act as lubrication, so that when you move your eyeballs and eyelids, friction isn’t generated to the point of hurting you. Without that lubrication, you can experience abrasion of the cornea, ulcers of the cornea, and other damage.
Pain in the eyes and headaches
With the inflammation and damage of the eyes, you’ll obviously experience pain in the eyes and also headaches.
But you don’t have to let the situation get there; get treated or try the home remedies we’ve talked about.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can drinking water solve dry eyes?
Water is one of the main constituents of tears. If your dry eyes situation is a result of dehydration, then drinking enough water will help.
How do I keep my eyes hydrated?
First of all, drink enough water. If that doesn’t solve the issue, use artificial tears (available in eyedrops), which contain oil, to prevent the moisture from leaving too quickly. A humidifier will also help.
Are dry eyes dangerous?
Dry eyes are not a life-threatening condition. However, if left untreated, they can result in eye damage, such as ulcers and abrasion on the cornea, impairing vision, and that’s a serious problem.
Is it bad to use eye drops too much?
When used excessively, eyedrops can cause natural tears to wash away. That, in turn, leads to increased dependency on them to sooth your eyes and keep them moisturized.
It’s okay to use OTC eyedrops, but if the dry eyes problem doesn’t get better after a few days, it’s advisable to see a doctor or get a prescription for eyedrops from an eye specialist.
What foods can help my dry eyes?
Anything that’s rich in water like watermelon and cucumber. Also, eat food rich in natural, healthy fats, like oily fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, soybeans, and omega-3 rich oatmeal or pasta.
So, have you been able to pinpoint the cause of your dry eyes? Is it an infection, insufficiency of water in your body, wind, or are you just spending too much time in front of the TV or computer without following the 20-20 rule?
Whatever the cause, there’s a variety of treatment options as discussed above.
If your symptoms are only mild, you can start by avoiding the cause, and by doing warm compresses, drinking more water, and blinking more. In case that doesn’t help, go for a suitable OTC eyedrop product.
On the other hand, if your symptoms are more severe, make it a point to see an eye specialist.