Friday, February 14, 2014

Dr. Jeff Herschl : Let's Talk About Dry Eyes

By Dr. Jeff Hirschl

Dry eye is a common eye condition that should be taken care of by an eye doctor. Contrary to popular belief, using over the counter eye drops is often not enough to successfully manage dry eyes, especially when dry eye is severe and chronic. In fact, if there is an underlying eye condition, like blepharitis - an eye lid infection that commonly causes dry eyes - then treating the symptoms without addressing the infection prolongs the issue and makes the dry eye condition worse.

Women tend to experience dry eyes more than men, and frequent computer users will often notice dry eye as well. Older patients are also more prone to dry eyes. While you could get lubricating eye drops over the counter at any local pharmacy, it is a good idea to consult with an eye care professional for advice about which one to choose and how to use it most effectively. It is important to know that lubricating eye drops only relieve scratching, burning and irritation temporarily, but they do not solve the problem. Dry eye syndrome is usually a chronic eye condition.

Symptoms of dry eye include: irritation, soreness, pain, itching, red eyes, gritty sensation, excess tear production.

Dry eye symptoms are a good reason to schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor, even if it has been less than a year since your last comprehensive eye exam.

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition, but at Boardman Family Eyecare, we see more patients with dry eyes during the winter time. Cold weather makes people want to spend more time indoors with the heat cranked up, but the dry heat exacerbates dry eyes. In the Youngstown area, we also have many patients who spend many hours a day working at computers. Extended use of digital devices, including computers and smartphones, increases dry eyes. Women tend to be more prone to dry eyes than men, and older people often experience more dry eye symptoms.

The tears that are naturally produced by our eyes are multifaceted, including numerous oils, enzymes, and other substances, which all work together to lubricate and protect the surface of the eyes, which is required for healthy eyes and clear vision. When the quality of the tear film is reduced, the tear glands may actually produce more tears, as a way to overcompensate.

Here are some tips you can do to avoid dry eye:

Other outside causes, like a strong wind, can cause your eyes to dry out. That is why it is a good idea to always have sunglasses.

Make sure your home or office is not too dry due to heating and central air conditioning, or use a humidifier to manage the moisture content in the air.

While using your computer, take a break every 20 minutes to rest your eyes, and - it may sound funny, but - don't forget to blink!

If you experience dry eye symptoms, especially if they don't clear up after a couple of weeks, schedule an eye exam with our optometrist at Boardman Family Eyecare.

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