When your eyes are constantly irritated, it can interfere with your job or just about anything else you need to do. As an experienced optometrist, Tanya Lau, OD, understands the impact that irritated watery eyes can have on your life.
Dr. Lau offers eye health evaluations at Mission Viejo Optometric Center to determine the root cause of your chronic irritation and may diagnose you with a condition known as dry eye syndrome. She also provides comprehensive treatments to relieve your symptoms and protect the overall health of your eyes.
Why you have dry eye
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic health condition that develops when you aren’t producing enough tears or enough high-quality tears to moisturize your eyes. Tears are necessary for keeping your eyes moist and flushing away eyelashes, dust, and other debris that can irritate the eyes. Tears also contain special enzymes that prevent bacteria from infecting your eyes.
Your inability to produce tears may result from dysfunction in the tear glands that fail to produce tears. You may also have dry eye because your tears are evaporating too quickly because of not having enough lipids in your tears, which are produced in the oil glands of your eyelids.
Other triggers of dry eye include:
- Use of certain medicines
- Environmental conditions
Hormonal changes are also a common trigger of dry eye syndrome, with many women experiencing dry eye symptoms during pregnancy and menopause. You may also develop dry eye if you have a thyroid disorder or other hormone imbalance.
What it feels like to have dry eye syndrome
Without sufficient tears, you’re more likely to experience persistent eye irritation and other symptoms like:
Many people with dry eye syndrome complain of feeling like they have dirt or other debris in their eye all the time. As a result of these symptoms, your eyes may water frequently because your body continually tries to produce new tears. You may also find that your vision is affected and may become blurred, especially when in a heated or air-conditioned environment.
Options for confirming dry eye syndrome
Any persistent eye irritation needs an eye evaluation to ensure you don’t have underlying health issues. Dr. Lau offers comprehensive eye exams that can identify existing eye issues and confirm that your symptoms are related to dry eye.
Tests are available that focus on your tears and how quickly they evaporate from your eye. A special dye is used that makes it easy for Dr. Lau to evaluate the rate of evaporation, a test known as tear breakup time test (TBUT).
Another standard test for dry eye is the Schirmer test that involves a strip of paper that Dr. Lau touches to your eye under the lid. She then measures the amount of moisture collected after a certain period of time.
Relief is available for dry eye syndrome
The dry eye treatments Dr. Lau offers are customized to meet your needs. When your dry eye symptoms are occasional and mild, you may benefit from artificial tears and moisturizing eye drops to clear away debris and moisturize your eyes. These drops are available both over-the-counter and in prescription strength.
When drops aren’t enough to resolve dry eye symptoms, Dr. Lau may recommend tiny devices inserted under your lower eyelid, known as punctal plugs. These inserts slowly release lubricating fluids to refresh your eyes.
You can make certain lifestyle changes to reduce the frequency of your dry eye symptoms. For instance, if you wear contact lenses, you may need to reduce your wear time or discuss a different type or brand of contact with Dr. Lau.
Other changes you should make include:
- Staying hydrated
- Using a humidifier
- Avoiding environmental irritants
Dr. Lau can also offer guidance to help you become more self-aware about your blinking habits. If you often work on a computer, you may not be blinking enough to keep your eyes hydrated.
Although dry eye symptoms can be disruptive, solutions are available to resolve your discomfort. Dry eye won’t affect your long-term vision, but if left untreated, chronic rubbing of itchy eyes can lead to unintentional eye injuries.
Schedule a consultation for dry eye syndrome today at Mission Viejo Optometric Center by calling the office or by requesting an appointment online now.