Millions of people suffer from dry eyes and it's one of the most common complaints of patients here at Sigma Eyecare Optometrists. Dry eyes issues can stem from computer usage and prolonged screen time, something we all fall victim to on a daily basis.
Not a lot of people talk about dry eyes, even though it’s affecting around 90% of the people we see and it's probably affecting you right now as you stare at the screen and read this post.
So what exactly is dry eyes syndrome? How do we get it, what can we do to treat and ultimately to prevent it?
Let’s explore this topic in a bit more detail to answer these questions.
What is Dry Eye Disease/Syndrome?
Dry Eye Disease is one of the most common, yet underdiagnosed, ocular diseases. Early-onset dry eye disease is characterized by mild symptoms that are often ignored or mismanaged by patients. As a result, dry eye disease often goes undiagnosed until the symptoms worsen.
Dry eyes is when you lack adequate lubrication levels in the eyes. Tears can be inadequate and unstable for many reasons. For example, dry eyes may occur if you don't produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears.
Having dry eyes can result in burning, stinging sensations, or pain around the eye.
Are you rubbing your eyes frequently?
Do your eyes sting, or burn? Are they itchy?
This could very well be dry eyes.
What is the main cause of dry eyes?
One of the biggest culprits of dry eyes these days is increased screen time as many people are working from home. Dry eyes could present itself as other ocular conditions, or pain in the eye, but often when we can confirm our diagnosis after carrying out an examination.
Blinking less often can contribute to Dry Eyes, which can occur when you're concentrating during certain activities, such as while reading, driving or working at a computer.
In some cases we’ve found that people using low grade topical eye drops can experience dry eyes, as well as people on certain medications too.
Environmental factors like wind, smoke or dry air can also be contributing factors to dry eyes.
“Dry eyes is honestly one of the scourges of our modern times, and it's something that’s so easy to fix and yet so hard”
Eye Strain, or Pain with Dry Eyes
Often patients come in with pain presenting in and/or around their eyes. They might think it is something very serious, and they might even go to the ER because their eye pain is so intense.
So what is this strain and pain? Is it linked to dry eyes?
Eye strain is a common condition that might occur when your eyes get tired after prolonged focus on one activity; too much computer time, driving long distances etc..
Some symptoms of eye strain include soreness; tired, burning or itching eyes; dry eyes, headaches and possibly blurred vision. Someone suffering from dry eyes syndrome will experience eye strain more often throughout their day.
Dry eyes is most commonly a scratchy sensation, or the feeling that something is in the eye, but can also present as intense pain and redness in the eye too. From our experience, we’ve found that dry eyes is the cause for most of this discomfort.
Pain in your eyes? Come see us first!
So when you‘re experiencing eye issues, pain in your eye, check in with us first. We’ll examine your eyes and make sure there are no immediate concerns that we need to treat. It may save you a trip to the emergency room, and/or a wasted referral to the ophthalmologist too. It might just be something that you can easily rectify with us at the clinic.
Dry Eyes FAQs
How do I know if I have dry eyes?
Having dry eyes can result in burning or stinging sensations, redness, or itchy eyes. Dry eyes could also present as pain around the eye.
Family doctors will refer patients who express concern about a pain in their eyes. These people will come to us for an examination and a lot of the time it’s simply dry eyes syndrome which we are able to treat and manage.
- Do you have itchy eyes?
- Do you have redness in your eyes?
- Do you have pain or soreness in your eyes?
- Do you feel strain when concentrating on specific tasks?
- Do you get headaches often?
- Do you stare at a computer screen for 10+hours a day.
If you answer yes to 3 or more questions, then it’s possible you have dry eyes disease. Book in for an eye examination with us and we can determine if you are in fact suffering from dry eyes syndrome and start treating it straight away.
When should I see a doctor?
If you continue to experience prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eyes, including red, irritated, tired or painful eyes, you should make an appointment to see your eye doctor and learn about steps you can take to get the condition under control.
What are the dangers of prolonged dry eyes?
People who have dry eyes may also experiences issues such as:
- Permanent eye damage. If you leave dry eyes untreated for too long, it may result in issues like eye inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcers and vision loss.
- Eye infections. Your tears offer a layer of protection to your eyes. Without this protective surface layer, you may have an increased risk of eye infection.
- Decreased quality of life. Your eyes are an essential part of your quality of life. Dry eyes can make it challenging to perform everyday activities, like working, reading, and driving.
Good news though... dry eyes syndrome is completely manageable. There are easy steps you can take to treat dry eyes and we can show you how to do it.
How do I get rid of dry eyes?
Lubrication of the eyes is important, so using eye drops is a good place. Even simple things like hot compresses at the end of the day works wonders too. Both can go a long way to help regardless of age or seriousness of condition.
First steps to treating dry eyes
- Lubrication - eyes drops and hot compresses
- Lifestyle changes - as best you can try to limit
Explore our eye drops and moist heat therapy collections in our store.
How do I treat dry eyes?
There are two very effective means that can manage dry eyes; Eye Drops and Hot Compresses.
Eye Drops should be your first port of call for dealing with dry eyes. Eye drops like the ones we have on the Sigma Store can be sufficient in many cases to manage dry eyes.
Secondly, most eye care professionals will recommend moist heat therapy as a form of supplementary treatment for people suffering from dry eyes and other conditions of the eyelid.
Warm compresses helps with the eyelids and the oils, supporting the health of the tear film, the thin fluid layer that covers the outer mucosal surfaces of the eye
Dry Eyes Treatment starts with YOU
Unfortunately, the management of dry eyes takes effort and the onus is on YOU. Yes you! As your eye doctor we can only do so much with regard to dry eyes, it’s the consistent daily actions that will alleviate your symptoms.
You have to be consistent with treatment. You have to be good about putting in drops, or doing the warm compresses, at regular intervals. It does require effort but you must make the commitment in order to feel better.
Can I buy any old eye drops online?
"I just bought these eye drops for like $20, and they don't work."
That’s a comment we get quite frequently.
Often eye drops alone will not be sufficient so that is why we also recommend hot compresses too.
Hot Compresses for Dry Eyes treatment?
While the most budget friendly method is with warm water and a clean towel, it is more convenient and effective to obtain a dedicated eye mask such as the I-Relief Hot & Cold Therapy Eye Mask. The key is these masks are able to retain consistent moist heat for at least 15 minutes which is the recommended amount of time per treatment.
Hot or cold compresses can provide immediate relief from discomfort, and consistent use over time can help increase blood circulation, stimulate lipid oil production and reduce tear evaporation, thereby improving overall ocular health.
Hot-cold therapy can help patients manage their dry eye condition from the mildest of symptoms to more serious conditions, such as MGD or Blepharitis. It can also help with relief of symptoms associated with blepharitis, meibomian gland disease (MGD), styes and chalazia, as well as headaches, sinus pressure, tension, swelling and puffiness.
Can I get my eyes examined to see what’s going on?
A regular eye examination like the one offered here at Sigma Eyecare Optometrists will help determine the best course of action.
Book in with one of our eye doctors to get started. Book your appointment today
Unfortunately the life we live in front of the screen can be a major contributor to strain and subsequent pain. Your eyes can get strained when you're concentrating during certain activities, such as reading, driving or working at a computer.
To alleviate strain, simply take screen breaks every 20 mins, and by looking around you get less dry eyes because you're blinking more and focusing far away.