Ask any eye doctor what is the most common ailment that their patients come to with, and you’ll unanimously hear “dry eyes”. Scientifically called keratoconjunctivitis sicca, it affects just about everyone to some extent. For most people, it can be a factor of environment or seasonal. For others, it can be a chronic issue affecting their eyes regardless of the time and place.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
For lack of a better term, dry eyes occur when there is a drying up of the eyelid ducts that produce tears resulting in a lack of moisture. You may notice it being more common during the winter months, as a result of cold dry air outside as well as dry indoor air from heating units. I know when I visit family up in the northern U.S. over the holidays, I can definitely feel it in my skin. While the winter is a bad time, it can happen year round, and we cover that on another page in our summer skin care tips.
In addition to environment, age is a factor when it comes to this condition. It is reported that individuals over 50 years old are more susceptible to this issue. It is also more commonly seen in who women who are going through menopause. See our other signs of aging here.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
There are a few things to look out for and they are all quite noticeable. Here are a few of the signs you should be aware of before the issue becomes too severe:
- Itchiness and dryness in and around the eye area
- Cracked skin along the eyelid and inner-eye areas
- Irritation of the eye
- Redness of the eyes at the end of the day
- Blurred or cloudy vision due to eye irritation
Too frequently these symptoms are ignored. It is important to recognize these signs as disregard can lead to damage to the eye. In addition to the health of the eye, the result loss of visual acuteness can lead to danger to you and those around you. Think of all the daily activities you perform – driving a car, for example – and the potential risks of doing those with less than stellar vision.
Ways to Soothe Your Dry Eyes
There are a number of ways that you can get relief for your dry eye symptoms, restore the health of the eye and clear up your vision.
- Use artificial tears or tear substitutes. Apply these drops at least four times per day for the best results. Be careful to not become too reliant on this method, as habitual use can actually make the problem worse.
- When in sunny or windy conditions, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the elements.
- When indoors during dry conditions, use a humidifier to restore moisture to the atmosphere.
- Stay hydrated! Make sure to drink plenty of water.
- Change your diet to make sure it includes enough Omega-3 fatty acids. Consider adding a fish oil supplement.
- Apply a damp, warm washcloth to your face when your eyes feel tired or burning. Use a baby shampoo or lid scrubs for even better results.
- Avoid smoking. Cigarette smoking dehydrates the body internally and the smoke irritates the eyes externally.
- When it comes to makeup, try to use creams instead of powders. Be careful not to apply eye liner too close to the eye itself.
If your problems become worse, do not hesitate to visit your doctor for their recommended treatment. They will be able to perform more diagnostic tests and prescribe you a stronger tear substitute.
For other troubles with the skin around your eyes, take a look at our Eye Treatment 101 where we take an extensive look at under eye treatments.