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Dry Eye Disease

Do you experience itchy, burning, blurry or stinging eyes? If so, it could be more than an irritation, it could be dry eye disease. Dry eye disease is becoming more prevalent today with a host of environmental conditions that can cause or exacerbate the symptoms. It is estimated that anywhere from 5% to 30% of people will have dry eye in their lifetime. At Bayview North Optometry, we assess, diagnose and treat dry eye symptoms.

Dry eyes could lead to blurred vision, light sensitivity and headaches. With many different causes of dry eyes, including medication, allergies, increased age and digital eye strain, it is advised to speak with your optometrist to help diagnose the problem. Dr. Sakhichand at Bayview North Optometry has over 20 years of experience providing dry eye care in Aurora, including assessing eye health and prescribing treatment of dry eyes.

Important Facts About Dry Eye

To get a better understanding about dry eye, here are some important facts you should know about.

What is Dry Eye?

Normally, eyes produce enough tears to keep them moist and feeling comfortable. Dry Eye is a disease that can occur when:

  • Your eyes stop producing enough tears
  • The quality of your tears is poor

How do I know if I have Dry Eye?

Dry Eye can have a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • Blurry or fluctuating vision (especially in the morning or near the end of the day)
  • Itching, burning, stinging or irritation
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness
  • Excessive tearing 
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye pain/aching

Dry Eye can cause discomfort and irritation when wearing contact lenses for long periods of time. For those who use a computer, the symptoms can be much worse. The only way to know for sure if you have Dry Eye is to talk to your optometrist about your symptoms. Everyone is different, and the treatment options are usually tailored for the individual depending on the type and severity of your symptoms.


What Causes Dry Eye?

Dry Eye is a complex condition and can be caused by a number of different factors. Common causes of Dry Eye include:

  • Aging/hormonal changes (especially in women)
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Having LASIK or cataract surgery
  • Looking at a computer screen, smart phone or tablet
  • Environmental factors (dry/windy conditions, excessive heating/cooling at home or at work)
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Side effect from taking certain medications (e.g. high blood pressure pills, antihistamines, birth control pills, antidepressants, and some acne medications)
  • Some medical conditions (e.g. arthritis, diabetes, thyroid condition)

Any of the above factors can cause Dry Eye.


How Do Triggers Lead to Dry Eye?

Whatever initially irritated your eyes (e.g. wearing contact lenses, looking at a computer screen too long, using your smart phone or tablet too long, or taking medications) can lead to what is called a “Cycle of Inflammation” on the surface of your eyes. This inflammation may be what continues to cause your symptoms of Dry Eye. It is important to treat the inflammation on the surface of your eyes in order to increase healthy tear production and decrease your symptoms.


Dry Eye Can Impact Your Quality of Life

Dry Eye symptoms can make it more difficult to perform your regular daily activities such as:

  • Driving, especially at night
  • Reading
  • Watching television
  • Working on a computer, smart phone, or tablet

If left untreated, Dry Eye may lead to decreased quality of vision and/or increased risk of eye infections.

How is Dry Eye Treated?

It is important to understand that for many with Dry Eye Disease, it is a chronic condition for which there is no cure. Today, however, there are treatments available to reduce the symptoms and make your eyes more comfortable. TREATING YOUR DRY EYE IS LIKE BRUSHING YOUR TEETH OR WASHING YOUR FACE. YOU HAVE TO DO IT EVERY DAY IN ORDER FOR IT TO BE EFFECTIVE!

Your optometrist has a variety of options to treat Dry Eye, depending on how severe your symptoms are. You may need to try different options to see which ones are right for you. Even if your Dry Eye symptoms are mild and don’t bother you all the time, it’s worth discussing with your optometrist.


The Role of Artificial Tears

Depending on your symptoms and severity of Dry Eye, your optometrist may recommend that you start using artificial tears to help with short-term relief. Artificial tears lubricate the surface of the eye and are safe for long term use. Many modern over-the-counter artificial tear products are very effective, but have to be used correctly. Your optometrist will be able to recommend the best product for you based on your symptoms and type of Dry Eye.


The Role of Prescription Treatments

If you have moderate to severe Dry Eye Disease and are using artificial tear products multiple times per day, yet are still experiencing symptoms, your optometrist may consider a prescription treatment. Prescription treatments include topical cyclosporin A eye drops (e.g. Restasis – can be used long term) and topical corticosteroid eye drops (e.g. loteprednol etabonate - reserved for short term use only). Prescription treatments specifically target the inflammation that causes Dry Eye and can restore healthy tear production.

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