Your Dry, Itchy Eyes May Not Be Allergies
Submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 18, 2021
Summer is an expected time to experience allergies, primarily due to the increase in pollen in the air. You know the classic signs, sneezing, coughing, and, of course, itchy eyes.
While stinging, irritated, dry eyes may be familiar for people with a pollen allergy, they can also indicate a deeper problem. Chronic dry eye affects millions of people, many of whom don’t even realize what is causing their suffering.
Dry eye syndrome is a condition that has fairly straightforward treatment options as long as it is in its early stages. Early detection is vital to treat dry eye syndrome, as it can worsen if the problem is not addressed.
Keep reading to learn more about dry eye syndrome and how you can treat your chronic dry eyes!
What Causes Dry Eye?
Dry eye symptoms, such as grittiness, itchiness, redness, mucus discharge, and sometimes pain, can come from various factors. These include external irritants, like allergens, but can also be internal. They can also come from a combination of both.
In general, you can separate the internal origins of your dry eye into two groups. One is dry eye caused by a lack of tears, and the other is dry eye caused by unhealthy tears.
Lack of Tears
Dry eye caused by a lack of tears is pretty straightforward. Your body is simply not producing enough tears to nourish your eyes and keep them lubricated.
Why your body isn’t producing enough tears, on the other hand, can be harder to determine. It could be the result of dehydration since tears are mostly made up of water. Or it could be from a blockage of the tear duct.
But most often, a decrease in tear production is caused by aging. As you get older, your body slows down and stops functioning as well as it used to.
One of the first functions to go is tear production. That’s why most people over 65 experience some degree of dry eye.
Dry eye caused by inadequate tears is a bit more complicated to explain. First, you have to understand that tears are not just made of water.
Three ingredients make up a healthy tear, water, mucus, and oil. Each component serves an essential role in ensuring that the tear does its job.
The water is the primary nourishing agent, providing hydration and nutrients to the eye. In addition, the small amount of mucus in the tear causes the water to spread evenly across the surface of the eye.
That way, the entire eye receives nutrients and gets hydrated. Lastly, the oil coats the tear, preventing it from evaporating off the surface of your eye before it can do its job.
Typically, when there is a problem with tear quality, it is due to a lack of oil. This is because the glands that produce the oil are prone to becoming blocked by debris or inflamed.
These glands are the meibomian glands, and they sit at the edges of your eyelids. Blockages and inflammation in your meibomian glands make them unable to secrete oil.
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is a common cause of dry eye syndrome. Fortunately, there are numerous treatments available to reduce or eliminate the causes of MGD.
The Stages of Dry Eye
If your dry eye continues without treatment, the symptoms can create a feedback loop. As your dry eye symptoms worsen, they generate more symptoms, which further exacerbates the issue.
At the first stage, you may experience mild symptoms like blurriness and slight burning. Eventually, more advanced symptoms will develop.
These include grittiness, redness, and a feeling of extreme dryness in your eyes. If the problem continues to progress, your dry eyes will begin to cause pain.
Pain from dry eyes is a sign that dryness is beginning to cause damage to your eyes. It’s at this stage that the feedback loop begins to kick in.
Your eyes can develop so much inflammation that it blocks tears from entering your eyes. At this point, you will begin to experience the worst of the symptoms.
These symptoms can include:
- Extreme light sensitivity
- Corneal abrasions
- Eyelids sticking to your eyeballs
It takes a while to get to the severe stage of dry eye, so don’t panic if you think you may have a problem. However, you should consider getting treatment as soon as possible.
Treatment for your dry eyes will do two things. First, it will prevent possible damage to your sight, and it will also relieve the discomfort.
Managing Chronic Dry Eye
You can treat the dry eye symptoms at home using artificial tears that you can buy at the supermarket. While this won’t fix the underlying issue, it is an excellent way to relieve symptoms without causing more damage.
Rubbing your eyes may be tempting, but it doesn’t actually provide long-lasting relief. You should avoid rubbing your eyes at all costs. Rubbing them can cause damage over time.
The best treatment for your dry eye depends on what the underlying cause of your dry eyes is. If the cause is environmental, then you may need to increase the air moisture in your home.
You can do this with a humidifier or an air purifier that removes eye-irritating airborne particles. You also may need to increase your water intake to give your body the water it needs to produce tears.
If you need medical intervention, there several different types of treatment. These include:
- Drugs that stimulate tear production
- Inserts that slowly dissolve into artificial tears
- Plugs in your tear drainage ducts that prevent tears from draining out of your eyes
- Gland expression therapy to unclog your meibomian glands
- Prokera® biologic corneal bandage
Prokera® Corneal Bandage for Dry Eye
The Prokera® corneal bandage is a dry eye treatment that heals the eye’s surface and reduces inflammation. It is best suited to treat dry eye caused by an irregular epithelium.
The epithelium is the outer layer of your cornea, and if it has an irregular shape, it can affect your tear film. The Prokera® device gets inserted into one eye to treat this type of dry eye.
It gets left in the eye for up to a week before you return to the eye doctor’s office to evaluate if the Prokera® treatment healed your cornea. Then, the Prokera® device gets inserted into your second eye, and you follow the same procedure.
Are you tired of chronic discomfort from dry eyes? Then, schedule an appointment at The Ophthalmic Center in East Setauket, NY, today! No matter what is causing your dry eyes, there is a treatment for you!