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Dry Eyes: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Do you wake up with sore eyes?

Does your vision blur when you read?

Do your eyes feel full of grit when looking at your computer?

Do you constantly have watery eyes?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you may be suffering from Dry Eyes Syndrome, also known as Ocular Surface Disease.

Dry eyes, or dry eye disease (DED), is a common eye disorder where your eyes do not produce enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly. As a result, people with dry eyes experience symptoms such as burning, itching, blurred vision, and watery eyes. Do your eyes stream tears on cold, windy days? This excessive watering is caused by dryness and your eyes attempting to combat it by producing more water, often leading to over tearing. This reflex tearing is a protective mechanism, and the quality of these tears are poor, so they don’t do a great job at solving the underlying issue.

Symptoms of Dry Eyes

Dry eye is caused by a problem with your tears. Normal tear fluid is made up of 3 major components – a lipid layer (1), which is the oily part of tears that helps to slow down tear evaporation, a watery layer (2), and mucin layer (3), which is a sticky layer that helps spread the tears over the surface of the eye. Dry eyes are due to the eyes producing an inadequate amount of tears and/or tears of poor quality. The poorer quality tears tend to evaporate too quickly. Typically, it’s actually a combination of both lack of tears and poor quality tears that cause dry eyes.

As described by people living with dry eye disease, the most common symptoms of dry eyes may include:

  • Sore, uncomfortable and sometimes painful eyes

  • A gritty or sandy feeling in the eyes

  • Itching, stinging, or burning sensation

  • Temporary blurred vision

  • Excessive eye watering (especially when it’s windy, dusty or smoky)

  • Red eyes

  • Eyelids that stick together

  • Contact lenses that feel uncomfortable

More severe symptoms may include very red, painful eyes, sensitivity to light (photophobia) and deteriorated vision.

Causes of Dry Eyes

Tears are vital to your eye health as they help keep your eyes lubricated, protected against disease, and clear debris from the surface of your eyes. Dry eyes can be caused by many factors, including

  • Age – dry eye tends to affect people over the age of 50.

  • Medication – certain medications may cause dry eyes, such as antihistamines, decongestants, diuretics or antidepressants, to name a few.

  • Computer use – people who work on a computer tend to blink less frequently, which leads to greater tear evaporation and dry eyes.

  • Hormones – hormonal changes due to menopause , pregnancy, or using birth control pills may lead to dry eyes.

  • Environment – cold climates, high winds, dusty, smoky or low humidity atmospheres all contribute to increased tear evaporation and dry eyes.

  • Health – dry eye syndrome can sometimes be associated with a vitamin A deficiency.

  • Contact lenses – long-term use of contact lenses can deprive your eyes of lubrication and cause dry eyes. If you experience dry eyes, it is recommended you inquire with your eye doctor about contacts that are specifically designed for dry eyes.

How are Dry Eyes Diagnosed?

At Eye Plus, our optometrists offer a private 30-minute Dry Eye Assessment to fully investigate the cause and effects of your dry eyes. During your assessment, we will discuss your symptoms and may ask a range of questions to determine the severity of your situation. With the results of this assessment, we produce a fully customized treatment plan to treat your dry eyes. To learn more about our Dry Eye Assessment process, you can visit our Dry Eye Services by clicking here.

How to prepare for your dry eyes appointment

When you visit us at Eye Plus for your Dry Eye Assessment, our eye doctors will want to know all the details regarding your dry eyes to determine what the causes may be. To get as much out of your appointment as possible, we recommend that you make some notes about your dry eyes to share with our eye doctors. For example, what kind of symptoms you are experiencing, at what times of day are those symptoms better or worse, and how your dry eyes have been affecting your life. If you are taking any medications, we recommend you either bring them with you or create a list to provide your optometrist. Finally, think about what you want to get out of the Dry Eye Assessment appointment, and write down any questions you may want to ask our eye doctors to ensure we have covered everything!

Book your Dry Eye Assessment today

If you’re tired of living with dry eyes, our team at Eye Plus can help. Book a Dry Eye Assessment at our Nanaimo dry eyes clinic today. During your assessment, we will complete a full dry eye examination to determine what may be causing your eye discomfort and then develop a comprehensive treatment plan to effectively treat and improve your dry eyes.

To book your dry eyes assessment appointment, give us a call at 250 591 1018.


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