Dry eye is a common problem among older adults. It is a condition where your eyes do not produce enough tears to lubricate them. The tears may also be of low quality so that they do not nourish the eyes properly.
Tears are necessary for clear vision and maintaining the health of the cornea. They do this by washing away foreign matter. They also keep the surface of the eyes clear of infection and healthy.
The causes of dry eye include age, gender, medical conditions, medication, and environmental conditions. However, people who suffer from dry eye do so for two main reasons. They either do not produce enough tears or produce low-quality tears due to the above causes.
Several glands found in and around the eyes are responsible for producing tears. As you age, the glands produce fewer tears. They also tend to do so when you are on a certain medication and during certain weather conditions. Fall and winter, when the weather is windy and dry, can increase tear evaporation, for example. When tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, it causes dry eye.
Tears consist of mucus, oil, and water. Each nourishes and protects the cornea. The mucus layer spreads tears evenly over the cornea, while the oil layer prevents evaporation of the water. If the water evaporates too rapidly, it could be due to a deficiency of oil. If the tears do not spread evenly, it could be due to having less mucus. These kinds of tears are of low quality, promoting the development of dry eye symptoms.
The most common symptoms of dry eye are redness of the eyes, pain, and a burning sensation.
You may also experience:
A feeling like there is sand in your eyes
A feeling like your eyes are heavy
Difficulty sitting at the computer or reading for long periods
Watery tears, the body’s response to irritation of the eyes
Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
Your eyes also get tired faster
Difficulty wearing contact lenses
Difficulty with nighttime driving
People with dry eye may also experience complications with the symptoms. They are prone to experiencing eye infections. Without adequate tears, the surface of the cornea remains loaded with debris and microorganisms that cause eye infections.
If you do not treat the eye infections, they can lead to eye inflammation, corneal ulcers, and other issues. When you damage the cornea, it can lead to vision impairment and even blindness. Overall, dry eye reduces your quality of life and makes it hard to perform everyday activities. It makes it difficult to read, drive, and even use your computer.
You must treat dry eye before it advances. Failure to do so will damage the cornea and impair your vision. Be careful not to make the condition worse. For the best advice on how to handle it, visit your doctor.
For more on dry eye and its symptoms, contact Brandon Eyes at our offices in Madison or Middleton, Wisconsin. You can call (608) 833-0301 or (608) 833-7256 today to schedule an appointment.