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Understanding and Treating Dry Eye

Our eyes are precious, and tears play an important role in maintaining the health and function of our vision. That’s why dry eye is such a serious problem for so many people – when the tears run dry, our eyes are left itchy, irritated, red, and sometimes swollen. Millions of adults in the US alone suffer from dry eye. So why does this happen and what can we do about it?

What Causes Dry Eye?
There are several factors that can lead to dry eye syndrome including aging, stress, allergies, and certain medications such as antidepressants or hormonal contraceptives. Our environment also plays a role – being exposed to windy or smoky conditions can also contribute to dry eye symptoms.

Other causes include medical conditions such as blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), which affects the glands that produce oil for your tears. This oil helps keep your tears from evaporating too quickly and keeps your eyes lubricated. If you have MGD, your eyelids may be inflamed or swollen due to blocked oil glands. This can cause irritation and inflammation in your eyes leading to dryness.

How Can We Treat Dry Eye?
The first step is to identify what's causing your dry eye syndrome so that you can address it directly. If you think environmental factors may be at play – such as spending a lot of time outdoors in windy or smoky conditions – try wearing sunglasses when outside or using artificial tear drops throughout the day if needed. If you suspect blepharitis or MGD might be involved, talk to an ophthalmologist who can examine your eyes and provide treatment options specifically tailored to meet your needs.          
For general cases of dry eye syndrome, there are several treatments available including lubricating drops, gels, ointments, punctal plugs (which help keep moisture in the eyes longer), dietary changes (such as increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake), warm compresses over the eyes for 10 minutes twice daily to stimulate tear production, and special contact lenses designed for those with chronic dryness problems. It’s important to talk with an ophthalmologist about these options if you’re experiencing ongoing symptoms of dry eye syndrome so they can help determine what will work best for you individually based on the severity of your condition.

Dry eye syndrome is a common problem that affects millions of people around the world every year – but it doesn’t have to be something we just live with! Knowing what causes it is half the battle; understanding how we can treat it is key! Talking with a qualified ophthalmologist about our individual situation is essential in finding relief from this uncomfortable condition so we can get back to enjoying life without worrying about our vision!