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Electronic Devices And Dry Eye

Nowadays, screen usage has become a normal part of most people’s daily routine. Whether you use a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other devices, the time you spend focusing on a screen can often be felt in your eyes.

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is an eye condition characterized by dry, uncomfortable, red, itchy eyes, and can be caused by several factors: poor quality tears, insufficient tears, allergies, environmental irritants, and spending excessive time staring at a screen. Left untreated, DES can cause corneal damage and scarring, and sometimes permanent vision loss.

If you think you have DES or are experiencing any of its symptoms, our Aspire Vision Care optometric team can help.

How Using Electronic Devices Can Lead To Dry Eye Syndrome

Several studies have linked digital screen usage to symptoms of DES. While research is ongoing, it’s already known that the following factors all play a role.

Reduced Blink Rate

smart devices and dry eye 640Our blink rate is reduced by 66% when staring at a digital device’s screen. This finding is significant because blinking less frequently increases the risk of developing dry eye syndrome.

Blinking is a major component in keeping the eyes feeling fresh and healthy. With every blink, the eye’s tear film is replenished and spread evenly across the eye’s surface. When that happens at a reduced rate, symptoms of DES can develop.

Even if you blink often enough, you may not be fully blinking, leaving a tiny gap between the upper and lower eyelids upon closure. This tiny gap causes a ‘dry spot’ on your cornea, which does not receive any replenished fresh tears and can compromise your eye comfort. So make sure that you fully shut your lids when you blink.

Recent studies have shown that incorporating a blinking exercise into your daily routine can reduce your DES symptoms. Consider setting up reminder that pops up on your screen every few minutes.

Reduced Tear Stability

A stable tear film keeps the eyes feeling comfortable and functioning optimally.

Mucin 5AC, a protein, is an essential component of a healthy tear film that helps the watery portion of the tears cling to the surface of the eye. A study in Japan found that employees who spent the most time in front of screens (7 or more hours per day) had the lowest amount of mucin 5AC in their tears. This led them to complained of DES symptoms, like itchiness and irritation.

The employees who endured the least amount of screen time from the group (less than 5 hours per day) had higher amounts of mucin 5AC in their tears, similar to those without DES.

Higher Rate of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

The meibomian glands are the tiny glands that line the lid margin and secrete essential oils onto our tears. When these glands don’t function properly, an eye condition known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) occurs.

MGD is an umbrella term for gland complications that can lead to an altered tear film composition, ocular and eyelid discomfort, evaporative dry eye, and ocular surface disease.

Studies have shown that people who spend 4 or more hours staring at a screen have higher incidences of MGD and DES symptoms.

So, What Can You Do To Protect Your Eyes?

Here are a few tips that may help you combat symptoms of DES when using a digital device:

  • Take frequent blink breaks
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier near your work station
  • Avoid having a fan or air conditioner blow air directly into your face
  • Stay hydrated with water, fresh fruit or vegetable juices, milk or soups
  • Eat water-based dairy foods such as yogurts, smoothies, and oatmeal
  • Use artificial tears or prescription eye drops if necessary

The most important thing you can do for your eyes is to visit a dry eye optometrist. At Aspire Vision Care, we know how uncomfortable and even debilitating DES can be — and we’re here to help.

An eye doctor with specialized training and knowledge of DES can diagnose and treat the underlying cause of your condition and provide a range of effective, life-changing options.

To schedule your appointment and find the relief you need, call Aspire Vision Care in Round Rock today.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

References

Dry Eye Appointment
You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626
Learn More About Dry Eye
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What Are Dry Eyelids?

Dry skin on your eyelids isn’t like other dry areas on your body. The sensitive skin around your eye area is much thinner and has less fat underneath it for cushioning. Another difference is that the eyelid skin is highly vasculated with blood vessels, so it’s more prone to irritation and allergic reactions than other parts of the body.

Eyelids contain tiny glands that secrete essential oils into the tears, so maintaining their health and function is vital to ocular comfort.

Treatment will depend on what’s causing your eyelids to become dry. In many cases, a dry eye optometrist can help.

Symptoms Often Related to Dry Eyelids

Eyelids that are dry are often:

  • Scaly and rough
  • Itchy
  • Red
  • Irritated
  • Painful or sore
  • Discolored
  • Swollen

What are the Possible Causes of Dry Eyelids?

Some examples of irritants and allergens that can result in eyelid dryness are:

  • Cosmetics
  • Shampoos and cleansers
  • Certain metals in eyelash curlers
  • Food allergies
  • Pollutants in the air

Medical conditions that may lead to dry eyelids include:

  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Blepharitis

What You Should Do If You Have Dry Eyelids

If your dry eyelids are accompanied by other symptoms, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your optometrist to rule out underlying health problems.

Mild eyelid dryness can sometimes resolve on its own after making a few lifestyle adjustments. For example, stop using makeup while your eyelids are dry, and try washing your eye area with a mild baby soap twice a day. You can also try using a humidifier while at home or work to replenish the air’s moisture.

Avoid using moisturizers or lotions around the eyes unless directed by your dermatologist or other physicians to do so. You may find relief from using warm, moist eye compresses to help soothe the irritated eyelid skin. Always wash your hands before touching your face or eyes.

If your symptoms are lingering or worsening, a visit to your local dry eye optometrist is warranted.

How a Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help

Dry eyelids are usually no cause for concern and can be treated effectively. If blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) is causing your eyelid dryness, we can provide safe and effective treatment options for long-lasting relief.

A thorough examination of your ocular health and medical history will help determine the root cause of your symptoms and the best treatment plan for your condition.

Whether you have dry eyelids, dry eyes or other uncomfortable ocular symptoms, we can help. To schedule a consultation, call Aspire Vision Care today.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.
Dry Eye Appointment
You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626
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What Is Lagophthalmos?

Lagophthalmos refers to the incomplete closure of the eyelids and can produce symptoms similar to dry eye syndrome, such as dry, itchy, watery eyes. In extreme cases, it can cause corneal ulcers.

There are several types of lagophthalmos, ranging from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Increased tearing
  • Dryness
  • Irritation
  • The sensation that something is stuck in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain, especially in the morning

A visit with our optometric team can determine if lagophthalmos is causing or contributing to your dry eye symptoms.

Types of Lagophthalmos

grayscale photo of woman covering her face by her handBlink Lagophthalmos

When the eyelids don’t fully close during a blink, this is called “blink lagophthalmos.” Blinking keeps the eyes lubricated by spreading the tear film evenly along the eyes’ surface. An incomplete blink can lead to dry spots on the eye and other uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. Colliding eyelashes or tasks that require a high level of focus (such as working on a computer) can contribute to blink lagophthalmos.

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos

Nocturnal lagophthalmos occurs during sleep, so people with this condition may be unaware they have it. One common cause of this type of lagophthalmos is a decrease in fatty tissue behind the eyeball. Less cushioning causes the eye to sink further into the socket, making it more difficult for the lids to completely close. The fatty tissue can deteriorate for several reasons, including the presence of an autoimmune disease.

Paralytic Lagophthalmos

Paralytic lagophthalmos results from a paralyzed cranial nerve, thus preventing the eyelids from complete closure. Paralysis of the seventh cranial nerve can be caused by Bell’s palsy, tumors, or trauma.

Iatrogenic lagophthalmos

This is when the eyes can’t fully close due to medical treatment. Medical procedures that can cause lagophthalmos include Botox injections and sutures near the eye.

How Your Eye Doctor Can Help

There are several ways to treat lagophthalmos, and sometimes surgery may be necessary. It’s best to first visit our optometric team to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms and try the least invasive and safest treatments before resorting to surgery. If left untreated, lagophthalmos can result in corneal damage.

If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms of any kind, an eye exam at Aspire Vision Care can help determine the underlying condition so that a tailor-made treatment plan can provide long-lasting relief. Dry eye relief extends far beyond the options available at your local drugstore. The friendly staff at Aspire Vision Care make it their mission to provide the highest quality care for their patients. Get the relief you seek — book your appointment today.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.
Dry Eye Appointment
You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626
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Waking Up With Dry Eyes

Many dry eye sufferers experience a flare-up at night, either late in the evening or during the night. Waking up with dry eyes can adversely affect the positive feelings gained from a good night’s sleep.

Why do some people experience worsening symptoms at night? If your eyes feel sandy, dry, or as if they’re burning in the morning, it can be due to several factors. Perhaps your eyelids don’t fully close while you sleep (nocturnal lagophthalmos), or the symptoms are a side effect of certain medications that you take. Another possibility is that you’re not producing sufficient tears at night to flush out irritants. If you’re experiencing any of the above, speak with our optometric team today.

What Causes Red, Itchy or Painful Eyes Upon Waking?

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos

Ordinarily, during sleep your eyelids provide vital protection from air and debris that can irritate or damage the cornea. Nocturnal lagophthalmos is the inability to close your eyelids during sleep, usually due to a problem with the skin or muscles around your eyes. If left untreated, this condition can result in corneal scarring, eye infections, and impaired vision.

Insufficient Tear Production At Night

If you aren’t producing enough tears at night, you will be unable to flush inflammation-causing substances from your eyes while you sleep.

Tear production tends to diminish with age, due to some medical conditions or as a side effect of specific medicines. Environmental conditions, such as windy and dry climates, can also cause your tear volume to diminish due to increased tear evaporation.

Damaged eyelids can make it difficult to fully close the eyes during sleep. Complications from surgery, an injury, an illness, or an eye disorder, including glaucoma and optic neuropathy, can cause eyelid damage.

Thyroid-Related Eye Symptoms

Protruding or bulging eyes are a common symptom of Graves’ disease, a form of hyperthyroidism. This can interfere with your ability to close your eyes while sleeping.

Medication Taken at Bedtime

Certain medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, may cause dry eyes while you sleep. These include:

  • Antihistamines and Decongestants
  • Hypertension Drugs
  • Hormones
  • Drugs for Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Pain Relievers
  • Antidepressants
  • Skin Medications
  • Chemotherapy Medications
  • Antipsychotic Medications

If you are taking any of the medications listed above and are experiencing dry eye symptoms, speak with our optometric team to see whether there are alternative treatments less likely to cause dry eye.

In the majority of cases, medication-related dry eye symptoms will resolve once the medication is discontinued. However, it may take several weeks or months for symptoms to completely disappear.

How to Treat Morning Dry Eye

Depending on the cause, morning dry eye can be treated with sleeping masks, lubricating eye drops, eyelid weights, and ointment applied right before bed. Using a humidifier will ensure that you sleep in a moisture-rich environment that is less likely to dry out your eyes. In those with severe cases of nocturnal lagophthalmos, eyelid surgery may be necessary.

The best way to determine the cause of your morning dry eyes is to visit our optometric team for a comprehensive eye exam. Be sure to bring along a list of all medications and nutritional supplements you routinely take, as it will help us determine whether there is any causation, and provide you with a more effective treatment plan.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.
Dry Eye Appointment
You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626
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Dry Eye After LASIK

Many individuals with refractive errors like nearsightedness choose LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery to correct their vision due to its safety and effectiveness. But dry eyes are a remarkably common after-effect of LASIK surgery, affecting up to 95% of patients who’ve undergone this procedure. In fact, dry eye symptoms are the primary reason for patient dissatisfaction after LASIK. Although symptoms of dry eye syndrome (DES) most commonly occur in the immediate postoperative phase and are generally only temporary in nature, some individuals develop chronic and severe DES that can negatively impact their quality of life.

twin femalesWhat Is DES?

Dry eye syndrome is a multifactorial condition that is characterized by a chronic lack of ocular lubrication, which can be caused by poor quality tears, insufficient tears, pollution, allergies, or irritants.

Some symptoms of DES include, but are not limited to:

  • Redness
  • A feeling of dryness or irritation
  • Grittiness – the sensation that something is stuck in the eye
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)

To learn more about DES, visit our main Dry Eye page.

How Can LASIK Lead To Dry Eye?

During the LASIK procedure, some of the cornea’s nerves are cut, leading to reduced corneal sensitivity. The eye may respond to the decreased sensitivity by not sensing the need for lubrication, thereby producing fewer tears. This reduction in tear production is usually the culprit in post-LASIK DES.

LASIK surgeons are now aware that healthy tears promote healing following surgery. For this reason they perform certain screening tests prior to the procedure to ensure that DES will not significantly interfere with the outcome of LASIK.

What Are Risk Factors For Post-LASIK Dry Eye?

The following conditions increase a person’s risk of developing DES after undergoing LASIK surgery:

  • Having a high degree of myopia
  • Being above the age of 50
  • Being a female, especially post-menopausal
  • Having an autoimmune disease, such as Sjorgen’s syndrome
  • Living in a dry climate

How We Can Help Manage Your Symptoms

If you’ve undergone LASIK or are considering it for the future, know that we are here to help treat your DES symptoms, should any arise? At Aspire Vision Care, we provide dry eye relief to many patients who’ve had refractive surgeries and have helped make the healing process more comfortable. You don’t have to live with the discomfort of dry eye syndrome — speak with our optometric team about finding long-lasting relief.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

Resources

Dry Eye Appointment
You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626
Learn More About Dry Eye
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Digital Eye Strain and Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a condition characterized by chronic eye dryness and reduced quality of the eye’s tear film. Several factors can lead or contribute to dry eye syndrome, including genetics, age, environment, medical conditions and computer use.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:

  • Red eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Irritated eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Painful or stinging eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Mucus around the eyes

Below, we explore what digital eye strain is, how it relates to dry eye syndrome and how a dry eye optometrist can provide relief.

What is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain, otherwise known as computer vision syndrome, refers to a group of symptoms that affect both vision and ocular health after prolonged use of a digital screen (phone, tablet, computer, television, hand-held video game devices).

Someone with digital eye strain may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Dry eyes
  • Strained eyes

Digital eye strain is often caused by one or a combination of several factors:

  • A poorly lit environment
  • Poor posture while using a digital device
  • Uncorrected vision or eye problems
  • Glare from the screen
  • Holding the screen too close to the eyes or at an incorrect angle
  • Blue light emissions
  • 2 or more hours of continuous screen usage

How Does Digital Eye Strain Contribute to Dry Eye Syndrome?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a rise in cases of dry eye syndrome in places where stay-at-home orders were mandated. This phenomenon led researchers to pinpoint the link between dry eye syndrome and prolonged screen use.

Blue Light Exposure

Blue light is emitted by the sun, indoor lighting and digital devices with screens.

While the amount of energy blue light these devices emit is only a fraction of that in sunlight, many eye doctors are increasingly concerned by the amount of time people spend using these devices and the proximity of these screens to the user’s face.

A 2019 study involving primary human corneal cells in the BMJ Open Ophthalmology found that certain levels of blue light damaged the cells on the eye’s surface, potentially contributing to dry eye syndrome.

However, more research is needed to determine whether the amount of blue light used in studies can harm a person’s eyes.

Another study published in the PLOS One (2016) journal concluded that wearing blue light blocking glasses improved the visual impairment caused by tear instability in patients with dry eye syndrome.

Infrequent Blinking

Another reason screen use can lead to dry eyes is insufficient blinking. People tend to blink less when focusing on text or images on a digital screen, with the blink rate dropping by 66% when using a computer.

Blinking helps keep our eyes healthy and comfortable. With every blink, the ocular surface is cleaned of debris and lubricated, so less blinking means more irritation and dryness.

In 2018, researchers from the Northern Clinics of Istanbul conducted a small-scale study involving 30 people who spent 8 hours on the computer per day, and 30 people who spent 1 hour on the computer per day. They found that the prolonged use of a computer significantly increased the risk of developing evaporative-type dry eye syndrome due to the reduced blink rate.

Incomplete Blinking

An incomplete blink is when the top and bottom eyelids don’t meet during a blink, leaving some of the eye’s surface exposed. This can reduce the quality of the lipid layer in the tear film and eventually lead to dry eye syndrome.

Research published by the American Optometric Association (2014) found that people are significantly more prone to incomplete blinking when reading on a computer screen than when reading from a hard copy.

How To Find Relief From Digital Eye Strain and Dry Eyes

The good news is that there are steps you can take to alleviate some eye discomfort when using a digital device.

  • Ask your eye doctor whether blue light blocking glasses can help.
  • Make a conscious effort to blink frequently and completely.
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule — when using a digital device, take a break every 20 minutes to focus on an object that’s at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Reposition your monitor or device to reduce glare, or use a glare filter.
  • Adjust your body so that no muscles or joints are strained
  • Speak with your dry eye optometrist about a personalized treatment plan for long-lasting relief.

Limiting daily screen time may be unrealistic for some people, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with symptoms of dry eye syndrome. If you or a loved one suffer from dry eyes, we can help.

Call Aspire Vision Care to schedule your dry eye consultation today!

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.
Dry Eye Appointment
You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626
Learn More About Dry Eye
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Dry Eyes As We Age

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Dry Eyes As We Age

Some say that with age comes wisdom, confidence, and kindness. A slightly less pleasant aspect of reaching the golden years is the heightened risk of developing ocular conditions such as dry eye syndrome (DES).

While aging is inevitable, fortunately, dry eye syndrome is not. We can help manage symptoms with the latest dry eye treatments to ensure that your eyes stay feeling fresh and clear of any irritation.

What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a common, yet treatable, eye condition where the eyes aren’t sufficiently lubricated. This leads to a host of uncomfortable symptoms, listed below. The severity of DES symptoms can range from mildly bothersome to incapacitating.

What Are Dry Eye Symptoms?

Some symptoms of DES include:

  • Eye redness
  • A stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes
  • A gritty feeling, similar to having something in your eyes

If you experience any of the above symptoms, schedule an eye exam with Aspire Vision Care to determine the root cause of your dry eye and receive the relief you need.

What Causes Dry Eye?

DES can be caused by many factors, including pollution and dry air, allergies, poor tear quality, or insufficient tears. Healthy tears are made up of a combination of 3 layers: water, mucus, and oil. Any imbalance in this precise cocktail can result in DES.

elder woman using smartphoneHow Does Aging Engender Dry Eye?

The process of tear production slows as we age. If the lacrimal glands produce fewer tears, the quantity of your tears decreases. In addition to diminished quantity, problems with tear quality can result in a reduced production of oil and mucus.

Furthermore, certain medications can also pose a higher risk of DES for patients, especially those over the age of 50, when medications are more commonly prescribed. Frequently prescribed medications like antihistamines and blood pressure tablets can cause or exacerbate dry eye symptoms.

Several medical conditions and chronic diseases, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s disease, are more prevalent in people over the age of 50, and are known to cause DES in many patients.

How Are Dry Eyes Treated?

If you suspect you may have DES, know that the symptoms can be minimized or completely eliminated. Many people assume that over-the-counter remedies, such as lubricating eye drops, are the end of the line for DES treatment when this isn’t the case. At Aspire Vision Care, we know that DES can cause severe discomfort, and we’re here to help.

If your dry eye symptoms remain after trying over-the-counter lubricants, then our optometric team can provide a more comprehensive examination and discuss with you some more effective treatments than those available at the local drugstore.

With aging comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes booking your next eye exam at Aspire Vision Care. Don’t let dry eye symptoms reduce your quality of life — let us help you find relief.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

REFERENCES

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Gritty Eyes

That irritating sensation of having sand in your eye can be unbearable. Many of our patients describe it as having a tiny fleck of sand in the eye that doesn’t go away, resulting in a scratchy, rough sensation. If you experience that gritty, irritated sensation for extended periods of time, you may have an underlying eye condition, either dry eye syndrome, Blepharitis, Sjogren’s syndrome, or a number of other possible eye conditions. We will examine your eyes and determine the cause of the grittiness in order to provide you with the most appropriate treatment.

What Causes Gritty Eyes?

As mentioned above, gritty eyes can be caused by a number of eye conditions and diseases, such as Dry Eye Syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, Blepharitis, or sunburned eyes.

Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)

Dry eye is the most common cause of gritty eyes. A decreased production or quality of tears can cause the eyes to become dry, itchy, and uncomfortable. At times the eyes can even become very watery.

Our tears are composed of 3 components: water, oil, and mucus. You need all three in a perfect balance for healthy tear production. Dry eyes can result when one or more of these components are deficient or out of balance.

Why does DES cause watery eyes? A common form of Dry Eye Syndrome is insufficient oil in your tears, which causes the tears to run down your cheek. The glands that produce oil are called the meibomian glands. These are located inside your eyelids, and their tiny pores supply the essential oils. These glands can become blocked due to inflammation, allergies or pollution.

Other dry eye causes include refractive surgery (i.e. LASIK), aging, hormonal changes, or certain medications.

eyes behind the leafSjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the glands responsible for keeping the eyes, mouth and other parts of the body moist and lubricated. Therefore, it is no surprise that dry eyes are a distinctive feature of Sjogren’s syndrome. Other symptoms may include red eyes, contact lens discomfort, blurred vision, a gritty or burning sensation, light sensitivity, dry mouth, fatigue, and joint pain.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an eye condition caused by a skin disorder or a bacterial infection of the eyelids. A patient with Blepharitis typically experiences swollen eyelids, and red, irritated and itchy eyes. Grittiness is a very common symptom found in those with Blepharitis. This condition is now easily treated, thanks to a range of medication and treatment options.

Sunburned Eyes

Did you know that your eyes can get sunburned? When the eyes are over-exposed to UV radiation, the cornea at the front of the eye can develop a sunburn. The first sign of a sunburned eye is when the sclera, the white part of the eye, appears bloodshot. You may notice a sudden sensitivity to light, soreness, blurred vision and feel that gritty sensation in your eyes.

How to Treat Gritty Eyes

The key to treating gritty eyes begins with understanding its cause.

If it’s caused by dry eyes, our optometric team may recommend using artificial tears, which lubricate the eyes to relieve the gritty, itchy feeling. Prescription eye drops may be another option, as they increase the eye’s natural tear production. In certain cases, the doctor may prescribe steroids for short-term symptom relief.

If your gritty eye sensation is caused by a mild form Blepharitis, a simple way to alleviate the uncomfortable feeling is to keep your eyelids perpetually clean. Routinely use a warm compress to soften the buildup of crustiness on the eyelids and then gently wash away any eye crust formations. For most cases of Blepharitis, a more effective treatment is now available known as BlephEx. We may also suggest several BlephEx procedures, which effectively clean the eyelids of any bacterial buildup.

For those with sunburned eyes, eye drops provide relief by moisturizing the eye and soothing the burn with the lubricating formula. In more severe cases, anti-inflammatory drops may be prescribed. The gritty feeling from the sunburn often fades on its own within a few days. If you find that the grittiness and discomfort last for more than 2 days, contact Aspire Vision Care immediately.

If you are experiencing gritty eyes and can’t seem to find relief from the discomfort, get in touch and Aspire Vision Care will set up a consultation with our optometric team to discuss the specifics of your case. Our mission is to ensure that you enjoy long-term clear and pain-free vision.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.
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Why Dry Eye Affects More Women Than Men

The millions of women suffering from dry eyes can tell you that dry, itchy, watery eyes are no fun. Dry eye syndrome is not just uncomfortable or a nuisance, but can also negatively impact productivity and quality of life. Dry eye tends to develop in those aged 50 and up, and affects more women than men. Below we’ll explain why it’s more prevalent among women than men.

Dry Eye Syndrome and Women

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition characterized by dry, itchy, gritty and burning eyes. It occurs when the eye isn’t properly lubricated, either due to insufficient or poor-quality tears. Healthy tears are made up of a delicate balance of water, oil, and mucous, and any imbalance in this composition can result in dry eyes.

The symptoms of dry-eye can range from mildly uncomfortable to incapacitating and can cause visual disturbances or corneal damage if left untreated. If you think you may have dry eyes, or experience any of the following symptoms, our optometric team can offer effective long-lasting relief.

Dry-eye symptoms include:

  • Burning or itchy eyes
  • Grittiness
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Eyes that are red and sore
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes

Why Is Dry Eye More Common Among Women?

woman behind the flowersThe major reason that women are at risk for dry eye is due to the hormonal changes that occur throughout their lifetime. The fluctuation of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone (among other hormones) affects tear quality and production. More specifically, high levels of estrogen and low levels of testosterone both contribute to DES.

Women taking oral contraceptives may also experience dry eyes as a side effect. This is because the reduction in androgen levels due to the pill may impact the amount of tears produced and reduce tear-film stability.

The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can also lead to DES, leading pregnant women to stop wearing eye makeup or contact lenses due to heightened eye sensitivity. Furthermore, morning sickness may contribute to dry eyes as vomiting can cause dehydration, and because the eyes are part of a whole system, a dehydrated body often means dehydrated eyes.

Women who wear eye makeup, such as mascara and eyeliner, have an increased risk of developing dry eye due to irritating ingredients found in these products. It should also be noted that makeup removers often contain oil and harsh chemicals that can thin out the tear film covering the eye, causing the tears to evaporate prematurely.

Though women of all ages have a higher chance of developing dry eye than men do, those over the age of 50 are more susceptible to it.

Post-Menopausal Women and Dry Eyes

An estimated 38% of post-menopausal women in North America use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage menopausal symptoms. A common side effect of HRT is dry eye, especially if estrogen alone is administered.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed approximately 25,000 women over the course of 4 years to determine the relationship between HRT and dry eye syndrome. The results show that women using HRT with estrogen alone increase their risk of developing dry eye by 69%, and women who use a combination of estrogen and progesterone are 29% more likely to experience dry eye symptoms than women who don’t use HRT at all.

The risks and benefits of HRT should be discussed with a primary caregiver or gynecologist before starting treatment, particularly if there is a history of dry eye or other ocular conditions in the family.

Other medications popularly prescribed to patients over 50 can also contribute to dry eye symptoms, such as diuretics, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.

Fortunately, there are steps that women can take to prevent and/or treat dry eyes.

How Can Women Reduce Their Risk of Developing Dry Eye?

Below are a few practical tips:

  • If you wear eye makeup, don’t apply products on the inner parts of the eyelid in order to avoid irritation.
  • Be sure to remove eye makeup before bed by using a gentle soap or paraben-free makeup remover.
  • If you use a hairdryer, try not to aim it towards the eyes, as this can cause tears to evaporate.
  • Always discuss side effects and eye health history with your primary caregiver before starting any medication.
  • Use a humidifier in your home or place of work to reduce air dryness.
  • Use lubricating eye drops to relieve dry eye symptoms.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Regularly consume foods containing Omega-3s or take an Omega-3 supplement to improve tear quality.
  • Wear protective eyewear such as sunglasses when outdoors in order to block wind and debris from irritating the eye.

If you have any of the mentioned dry eye symptoms, call Aspire Vision Care today and schedule an appointment with our optometric team . The optometrist will recommend the most up-to-date dry eye treatments for your eyes and condition.

Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.

REFERENCES

Dry Eye Appointment
You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626
Learn More About Dry Eye
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Are Your Contact Lenses Causing Dry Eye?

Among the more frequent complaints, eye doctors receive from patients is that their contact lenses are making their eyes dry. While dry eye syndrome (DES) is very common among both contact lens wearers and non-wearers alike, the symptoms can be more severe and uncomfortable if you wear contact lenses. Typically, DES symptoms include irritated, red and itchy eyes.

The best way to deal with contact lens-induced dry eye syndrome is to visit our optometric team , so we can determine exactly why your eyes are dry and provide ways to increase your comfort while wearing contact lenses.

What Is Contact Lens-Induced Dry Eye?

The cornea, the front of your eye, is the only area of your body that receives oxygen directly from the air. One reason contact lens wearers are predisposed to dry eyes is because the contact lens on your cornea can partially block oxygen from entering the eye. Although many contact lenses are designed to allow larger amounts of oxygen to permeate the eye, wearers can still experience dry, gritty eyes, especially towards the end of the day.

Another cause of contact lens-induced dry eye is the lenses’ absorption of tears. Lenses need liquid to stay soft and maintain their shape and integrity.

This is known as contact lens-induced dry eye.

In a healthy eye, tears allow the contact lens to comfortably swim in the tear film above the cornea. A shortage of lacrimal fluid can lead to gaps in the tear film, causing the contact lens to irritate the surface of the eye. That, in turn, causes pain, redness and itchiness.

This effect can be further exacerbated if the lenses are low in quality or are poorly fitted to the eye. Such contacts absorb too much liquid from the tear film, causing the eye to lose vital moisture. This can also occur when traditional soft lenses are worn for an extended period of time.

Getting Relief for Contact-Lens Induced Dry Eye

The following can provide relief from contact lens-related dry eye.

  • Eye drops – Be sure to get eye drops that can be applied safely with contact lenses to reduce discomfort and refresh eyes. If, for any reason, the over-the-counter eye drops aren’t working, consult our optometric team , who can provide more effective treatment options.
  • Eye vitamins – Certain vitamins, taken orally, can increase the amount of nutrients your eyes receive. This not only improves eye health, but also increases contact lens comfort. The best eye vitamins and supplements include lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Omega-3.
  • Silicone hydrogel contact lenses – These lenses are made from the most innovative contact lens material available on the market. They are extremely breathable because they permit up to 5 times more oxygen to reach the eye than older-generation contact lenses. This allows them to be worn over a long period of time. They reduce dryness and boost comfort.
  • Low water content contact lenses It is a common misconception that the higher the water content, the more comfortable the contact lens. For certain wearers, particularly those suffering from dry eyes, it can have the inverse effect. High water contact lenses allow more oxygen to flow to the cornea but over time, as they lose liquid, they draw it from the tear film, thus exacerbating dry eye symptoms.
  • Daily disposable contact lenses – Also called dailies, these single-day contact lenses are a great option for dry eye sufferers. This is because protein deposits don’t have the time to build-up and cause discomfort, and lenses don’t dry out as a result of improper cleaning routines.
  • Scleral lenses – These large-diameter rigid gas permeable (GP) lenses vault over the entire corneal surface, ensuring that the front surface of the eyes don’t dry out. The liquid reservoir between the lenses and the cornea provides a continuous moist environment that protects the cornea and provides relief for those with dry eyes.
  • Orthokeratology – Would you like to wear contact lenses only when asleep? Orthokeratology (or ortho-k) is a gas permeable contact lens prescribed for overnight wear only. These lenses reshape the cornea while you sleep and temporarily correct nearsightedness and other refractive errors, thus enabling you to see clearly during the day without any need for contacts or glasses. This reduces contact lens-related dry eye symptoms.
  • Adhering to the hygiene routine advised by your eye doctor – Those who wear monthly lenses need to adhere to a specific hygiene routine advised by their eye doctor. If you’re using the wrong solution or not cleaning your lenses properly, this could be why you’re suffering from dry eye. Keep in mind that not all multi-purpose cleaning solutions are designed to clean silicone hydrogel contact lenses, so make sure the solution you’re using is correct.

        There is also a chance you may have sensitive eyes and that your dry eye symptoms may be an adverse reaction to the preservatives in the solution. If your eyes feel irritated, yet you are using your regular cleaning solution, speak to our optometric team , who will recommend a preservative-free lens solution for improved comfort.

        Tips to Avoid Dry Eye When Wearing Contact Lenses

        Dry Eye Girl 640×350To prevent eye dryness or inflammation, we recommend the following tips:

        • Make sure you’ve been fitted for your contact lenses by an eye doctor, as the eye practitioner can determine the exact strength and curvature of the contact lenses you need, and recommend the most suitable lenses for your eyes.
        • Regularly get your eyes examined for vision acuity and general ocular health. Contact Aspire Vision Care today for a comprehensive eye evaluation.
        • Purchase high-quality lenses and make sure they have good oxygen permeability. Lenses with hyaluronan, particularly silicone hydrogel lenses, are excellent for people prone to developing dry eyes. Hard lenses also come highly recommended, as they draw very little liquid from the tear film.
        • Until you find a better solution, do not wear contact lenses for extended periods. If you suffer from dry eyes, it is best that you only wear them for a few hours and on special occasions, such as for an outing or to play sports. Avoid wearing contact lenses when watching TV or working at your computer, as these place a strain on your eyes.
        • Make sure to dispose of lenses every day, fortnightly or monthly, depending on what your eye doctor recommends. Your contact lens containers should also be changed every few weeks to prevent any germ build-up.
        • Avoid wearing contact lenses when ill with a cold or the flu, as there is an increased risk of transferring germs into the eyes. Remove contact lenses if you have an eye infection like conjunctivitis (or pink eye), as germs can build up extremely well underneath them.

        If you wear contact lenses and struggle with dry eyes, ask your Aspire Vision Care eye doctor about scleral lenses. our optometric team will patiently assess and explain your condition to you, and will provide solutions and treatments for optimal visual clarity and comfort. Fortunately, there’s a vast array of contact lens types and brands available, so those who fear that they may have to discontinue contact lens wear altogether need not worry.

        Call the Aspire Vision Care today to schedule your consultation.

        Our practice serves patients from Round Rock, TX, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, and Georgetown, Texas and surrounding communities.
        Dry Eye Appointment
        You Have Dry Eye? Call 512-399-4626
        Learn More About Dry Eye
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