Dry eye disease is a condition that unfortunately affects many individuals. The disease is often associated with symptoms of a gritty feeling in the eyes, pain, redness, light sensitivity, and blurry vision.
It can be severe enough to affect your daily tasks but with the right treatment, some, if not all, of the symptoms can be relieved. There are a variety of risk factors that makes an individual more susceptible to dry eye disease.
Listed below are some of the main considerations our eye doctors will note if examining one’s dry eyes.
There are a variety of factors within the body itself that can cause an individual to be more susceptible to dry eye disease. Age is important, as individuals over the age of 40 are more susceptible.
This may be because of a decrease in tear production or a decline in health of the meibomian glands in the eyelids, which are responsible for creating the oil component for the tears that prevents evaporation.
In addition, women are more likely to get dry eye disease.
Alternatively, certain medications can increase one's symptoms of dry eye disease. In particular, these include antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control, and isotretinoin (for acne).
Systemic diseases such diabetes, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and thyroid disorders can all affect dry eye disease, either being the underlying cause or exacerbating the already existing condition.
Improving the environment in which you live and work as well as your daily habits is key for controlling the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease.
Computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain, is a term used to refer to a group of problems that result due to work on a computer, tablet, or cellphone, often for prolonged periods of time.
While one is concentrating on a task, they often blink less than usual, causing increased exposure of their eyes to air and, as a result, drying of the front surface of the eye.
One way to control the impact of this situation is to practice the 20-20-20 rule, by taking a break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
This allows the eyes to take a break and complete some full blinks to prevent overexposure to air. It also allows the eyes to relax from focusing on something up close for a long period of time.
Air currents can also have a large impact on dry eye disease, as sleeping with a fan on, a draft overhead, or air conditioning can further dry out the front surface of the eye.
Low humidity at work or home can also cause discomfort as the eye and tear film become more susceptible to drying out.
Lastly, laser eye surgery or cataract surgery are often associated with a transient worsening of dry eye symptoms. It is often the case that the surgeon will ask you to ensure your dry eye symptoms are under control before proceeding with the surgery.
In addition, wearing soft contact lenses are also associated with dry eye disease, although some lenses are designed to better combat this issue.
Scleral lenses in particular, a specialty contact lens, can actually be beneficial in dry eye disease as they provide a reservoir of fluid on the front surface of the eye at all times.