Q: My eyes are always burning and tired, what is causing this and what can I do about it?
A: Tired, burning, and irritated eyes are signs of dry eye syndrome, a very common condition. Women are more prone to developing dry eyes, and aging is a risk factor too. Eye dryness is often due to a decrease in the oil production in our eyelid glands, which causes the tears to evaporate too quickly. Certain medications and health issues can also contribute to dryness. There is no true cure for dry eye, but many treatments are available such as the use of artificial tears, Omega 3 nutritional supplements, prescription medications such as Restasis, and eyelid hygiene. Our eye doctors customize the treatments for each person and their specific condition.
Q: Are there some every day activities that can cause Dry Eye?
A: Having heaters or fans that blow in your face, not drinking enough water or eating enough fruits & vegetables, smoking, wearing contact lenses that aren't a good match for your eyes, and using a computer for a long time without remembering to blink, can exacerbate dry eye symptoms.
Q: What can cause Dry Eye?
A: Age, gender (female) and certain medications can cause dry eye symptoms. Other dry eye risk factors include work environment (dry offices or factories), the weather, and geographical location.
Q: Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?
A: People who suffer from allergies, or have systemic inflammatory diseases like arthritis and Sjogren's tend to be more susceptible to developing dry eye syndrome. Certain medications cause dry eyes as a side effect. Aging and being a woman, are both risk factors for dry eye syndrome too.
Q: How do I know if I have Dry Eye?
A: Dry eye syndrome is diagnosed based on symptoms, which include the eyes feeling dry, burning, itchy or irritated. Watery eyes and blurry vision are also common because the tears, which protect the outermost surface of the eye, can be unstable.
Q: If someone has overly teary eyes, that isn't Dry Eye, is it?
A: Ironically, yes, watery eyes can be a symptom of dry eye syndrome. The eyes try to overcompensate for the lack of good quality tears by producing reflex tears, which are usually meant to help flush out foreign bodies or function in a good "cry", and tend to spill out over the eyelids.
Q: I have a friend whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn't Dry Eye, is it?
A: Actually, the two biggest causes of watery eyes are allergies (usually accompanied by itching) and dry eye. There are two kinds of tears: basal and reflex tears. If you don't have enough good quality basal tears to keep the eye moist, the reflex tears (which are the crying/cutting onion tears) kick in and then you have too many tears streaming down your face! Think of it as your eyes turning on the taps to water themselves.
Q: Is Dry Eye more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
A: It's unclear. Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a chronic multi-factorial disease process in which signs and symptoms don't always correlate with one another. Some patient may be more sensitive in certain seasons than others, depending on the humidity level, wind factor, working environment, and other variables. Screening for this common and chronic condition is crucial to maintaining a healthy and stable tear film, no matter the season, and should not be based on symptoms alone.