Most of the time, if Dry Eye symptoms are to the point of being bothersome, then it has already caused damage to the ocular surface, and it is time to come in to see your optometrist. Most common symptoms are burning, itchy, dry gritty and watery eyes.
While it may seem that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months, but it may just be an illusion. The idea that dry eye is worse in the winter deals with the fact that the air tends to be less humid and drier in winter months, which is true.
However, in hot, humid places like Texas, we cannot live without air conditioning and fans! Being in environments where air conditioning and fans are constantly blowing dry, cool air at us can actually make dry eye symptoms worse.
This means that dry eye symptoms can be a yearlong problem, where the severity of symptoms depends a lot on environment, not just the season. Despite common logic, if the eyes get too dry, they do tend to water. Therefore, having very watery, tearing eyes is also a bothersome symptom of Dry Eye. This usually is the case if dry eye has progressed to the point of where the ocular surface is overly dry, where tearing of the eyes is a natural reflex.
When it comes to dry eye, prevention is key. It is far easier to treat before it gets out-of-hand with an unstable tear film and a vicious inflammatory cycle. I usually recommend patients come in if they are experiencing any discomfort at all. This will help get a good baseline evaluation of the stability of the tears and of the ocular surface.
Your doctor will perform a Dry Eye examination to determine if it is Dry Eye you are suffering from. A Dry Eye exam involves a thorough evaluation of the ocular surface. It also involves an evaluation of the tear layer and its stability, as well as evaluation with sodium fluorescein to assess for any damage to the ocular surface due to dry eye.
The typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes range from good artificial tears to stronger prescription drops. It can also include warm compresses of the eyelids, discussing environmental factors like water intake, Omega 3 supplementation, limiting fans and AC. Depending on the type of dry eye, as well as the severity, it could include a variety of treatments.
Research has also found that some people are more prone to having Dry Eyes than others. Dry eye is definitely more common in women, especially older women. It can however, effect men as well. It also more commonly effects populations in more dry, arid environments.
Our recommendations for people, to help them avoid Dry Eye issues, is to be aware of your eyes and how they feel. If they start to feel dry, do not hesitate to use a good artificial tear. There are so many different factors that can contribute to dry eye symptoms. Make an appointment today to come on in and discuss your symptoms with our doctor!