1) What can I do to prevent Dry Eyes?
Dr. Stewart: If you suffer from dry eyes, here are a few suggestions that you can do before you schedule for an eye exam and have your Dr. Stewart help you: 1) Avoid places with a lot of air movement. Don’t allow a draft of air on your eyes. 2) Turn on a humidifier in the wintertime; as you know, the air can be very dry in the wintertime. In the warmer months, there is a good amount of moisture in the air. 3) Stay away from cigarette smoke and smoke in general. There are irritants in smoke that can irritate your eyes. 4) Use warm compresses and then wash your eyelids. The warm compresses will loosen debris and washing will remove them from your eyelids. 5) Try an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. You can either try fish oil or flax oil supplements. The oil glands in and around your eyes will work better when you take these supplements. If you find that these suggestions help your dry eye symptoms a little bit, but not enough, we suggest that you mention the various options that you have tried during your next eye exam or visit to the optometrist. Your Eye Doctor is able to help you more with your Dry Eyes.
2) My eyes tear all the time. Why do you call it Dry Eyes?
Dr. Stewart: Your eyes have extra tears because your eyes produce extra tears to combat irritation and dryness. A better way to describe Dry Eyes is tear film instability, which refers to the composition of your tears not being in the proper composition. Stopping eyes from producing extra tears is a goal in the treatment of Dry Eyes.
3) What causes Dry Eyes?
Dr. Stewart: As we get older in both men and women, our tear production shifts. The tissues involved in producing tears produce less. Especially in women going through menopause, Dry Eyes can be a real problem. Medicines that we take for allergies such as antihistamines have side effects of dry eyes. Diseases such as Sjogren’s Syndrome and arthritis affect your ability to produce good tears. Blepharitis which is a redness of the eyelids with flaking can also cause Dry Eye symptoms.
4) Did my type 2 Diabetes cause me to get Dry Eyes?
Dr. Stewart: Dry eyes associated with diabetes is caused by insufficient production of tears due to autonomic neuropathy affecting nerves that control the tear’s lacrimal gland. In other words, just like you can develop neuropathy in your feet from diabetes, you can also develop dry eyes. This is another reason why it is important to have annual diabetic eye exams.
5) What happens if Dry Eye is not treated?
Dr. Stewart: Without adequate tears, you may have an increased risk of eye infection. The function of the tears is to protect the cornea and help provide a clear smooth surface on the cornea to see more clearly. If left untreated, severe dry eyes may lead to eye inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcer and vision problems. Treatment of dry eyes helps prevent eye infections and improves to obtain the clearest vision.
6) Can Dry Eyes cause blindness?
Dr. Stewart: No, Dry Eyes don’t cause blindness, but they can cause a lot of misery including blurry vision; redness; a gritty, burning, scratchy feeling; tearing, and feeling like there is something always in your eyes.