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5 Common Dry Eye Symptoms and How to Treat Them

5 Common Dry Eye Symptoms 640×350Are your eyes dry, itchy, and red? Is it difficult to wear contact lenses? Dry eye symptoms can be hard to live with, but fortunately, there are many treatment options.

Most cases of dry eye syndrome are caused by a blockage of the tiny eyelid glands that produce the tears’ essential oil. The oil keeps the liquid in the tears from evaporating too quickly and helps keep the front of your eyes feeling lubricated. Without this oil, your eyes will feel dry and itchy and may become red and more prone to infection.

The following are some common problems related to dry eye, and how they’re treated. syndrome.

Eyelid Inflammation

Eyelid inflammation, known as blepharitis, may contribute to dry eye syndrome because an inflammation and swelling of the edges of the eyelids can prevent the glands from releasing oil. Your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotics or steroids eye drops to treat inflamed eyelids.

Eye Redness

If your eyes are reddish or bloodshot, you should have an eye exam right away to rule out bacterial or viral conjunctivitis (pink eye). If your eye redness is a symptom of dry eye, your eye doctor will recommend the most effective treatment based on what’s causing your dry eyes. While over-the-counter artificial tears can sometimes lessen the redness by constricting blood vessels in your eye, their effect is usually temporary and doesn’t treat the underlying cause of your eye redness.

Corneal Damage

The moisture in your eyes helps prevent infections by washing away bacteria and other pathogens. Left untreated, dry eyes can lead to long-term corneal damage, known as ocular surface disease. Your eye doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, which are effective at treating inflammation short-term, but can increase pressure inside the eye if used for too long.

Discomfort Wearing Contact Lenses

If your eyes feel dry and irritated, wearing contact lenses can be uncomfortable, even impossible. Your eye doctor will discuss effective treatment options to give you the best chance of enjoying the many benefits of contact lenses.

Using over-the-counter eye drops may moisten your eyes in the short-term, but might not give you the total eye comfort you need to wear contact lenses. Your eye doctor can prescribe eye drops or offer effective in-office dry eye treatments to treat the underlying cause of your symptoms.

There is also a range of special contact lenses that keep the eyes more hydrated than standard contacts.

Eye Dryness – Too Few Tears

If you have dry eye syndrome, you may not be producing enough tears. While eye drops or artificial tears may provide temporary relief, speak to your [eye-doctor] about cellulose eye inserts that can be placed in your lower eyelid and dissolve to supply your eyes with more tears. The insert is designed to slowly dissolve, at which time a new one can be inserted.  Using inserts can be more convenient than having to apply eye drops multiple times a day.

Your eye doctor may also prescribe tear-producing medications like cholinergics, which are available in pills, gels or eye drops.

You don’t have to put up with dry eye symptoms! Dr. Alison Weisbeck and Dr. Pearl Motkoski at Eye Health Centre in St. Albert will determine the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms and prescribe the treatment that’s right for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Our practice serves patients from St. Albert, Edmonton, Spruce Grove, and Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Sophie Jobin

Q: What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • A: - Aging, particularly if there are also hormonal changes, such as menopause
    - Medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, eye allergies and rheumatoid arthritis
    - Medications such as decongestants, antihistamine, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy
    - Inflamed eyelids, such as blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction
    - Not blinking enough, which occurs with extended digital screen use and close activities like reading
    - Exposure to dry or polluted air and heat
    - Vitamin A deficiency

Q: How Can You Minimize Dry Eye Symptoms?

  • A: - Use a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air.
    - When outside, wear wraparound or another type of quality sunglasses to remove the effects of harsh winds and screen out UV rays.
    - Take breaks while using your digital device.
    - Take time to blink repeatedly to spread moisture over your eyes.
    - Stop smoking.
    - Use eye drops as recommended by your eye doctor.
    - Consume a healthy diet including omega 3 oils and drink plenty of water.
    - See your eye doctor regularly.


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