When Your Tears Don’t Work — Dry Eye Disease
Why are my eyes so dry? Why does it hurt when I blink? How do I treat dry eyes?
If the pain in your eyes has left you with thoughts like these, you’re not alone. Although many of us have experienced dry eye syndrome before, the symptoms can be really different from person to person, episode to episode. Sometimes the problem is nothing more than a slight irritation to blink away. But other times the eyes might experience stabbing pains and vision problems. Keep reading to learn what causes dry eye…and what you can do to manage it!
What Does Dry Eye Feel Like?
The most common dry eye symptoms include burning, itching, irritation, redness, soreness, and pain every time you blink. Blurry vision isn’t uncommon, either. In fact, dry eye can often be mistaken for a foreign body being stuck in the eye, as the two conditions share similar symptoms. Many patients refer to the feeling as “grit or sandpaper” inside their eyelids — not comfortable!
Paradoxically, another tell-tale sign of dry eyes involves your ducts producing too many tears. The tear film of your eyes consists of three layers, all produced in different parts of the eye. If your tears are lacking in one of the layers, they may not stick to the eye very long. In some cases, they might not even be adequate to flush foreign particles off the surface of the eye. If your eyes water frequently and feel painful regardless of how many tears they’re putting out, dry eye could be creeping in.
What Causes Dry Eye?
Although dry eye has several root causes, the most common aggravators involve problems we’ve all heard before: staring at screens for too long, wearing contact lenses for long periods of time, or exposing your eyes to dry climates and smoke. However, dry eye can also point toward a deeper underlying condition such as blepharitis and conjunctivitis, which is why you should always visit your eye doctor if something doesn’t feel right!
Another clinical cause of dry eye is known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, or MGD. Although this condition usually occurs with people over 60 years old and is common within Asian ethnicities, it can still be diagnosed in anyone at almost any age. When the Meibomian glands do not produce enough of the oil layer used by your tears to stick on the surface of the eye longer, your tears adopt a poor quality. Sometimes this gland can even get clogged, meaning not enough healthy oils will hydrate the eye. As a result, the tears drain down your puncta (tiny openings that drain tears from your eyes) too quickly, leaving the eye dry and irritated. This is why eye watering can actually be one of the symptoms of dry eye!
How Can Dry Eye Be Treated and Cured?
Different treatments are often recommended for dry eye depending on the severity. In most cases the use of a quality, over-the-counter brand of artificial tears should refresh the eye and flush out the puncta. If you’re an easy blinker when it comes to using eye drops, try landing the drops in the nasal corner of your eye before blinking them in. Since screen time can often relate to dry eye, taking frequent breaks from the computer or your smartphone is also a healthy practice!
If dry eye persists over long periods of time or becomes especially painful, visit your eye doctor to explore more advanced treatment strategies. One tried-and-true method involves your doctor instilling punctal plugs in your eyes — tiny silicone plugs which work like sink stoppers in your puncta, reducing the speed at which tears drain away. This helps to maintain the tear film on the surface of your eye, and can be a great alternative to drop therapy! And don’t worry — the plugs are harmless and cannot be felt in the eye while they’re in. This procedure is often recommended after you’ve already given lubricating drops a shot.
But before you purchase the best brand of artificial tears you can find, remember that most eye drop bottles are designed to output drops that are too large for your eyes to absorb. The Nanodropper adaptor minimizes the drop size which escapes eye drop bottles, allowing the correct amount to refresh your eyes without the risk of runover. This means you preserve time, money, and the health of your eyes all at once! Visit our shop to learn more about the Nanodropper adaptor.