The most common reason for your dry eyes is your tears evaporating too quickly. This also happens if your eyes cannot produce an adequate volume of tears. The condition can affect both eyes or just one, and it can occur at any age and in the healthiest of people. However, it seems to be a more common problem among those of an older age, as this is the point when the body starts producing fewer tears.
You don’t have to live with or suffer through bouts of dry eye. Here’s a guide to help you understand dry eye in Oshkosh.
Causes of dry eye
You notice your eyes making tears when you experience strong emotions or yawn, but your eyes actually produce tears all the time. Healthy eyes are always covered in a tear film, which remains in place between each blink of the eyelid. It’s the eye film’s job to keep the eyes from becoming too dry, and it helps to maintain clear vision. Dry eyes can be caused by the following things, as well as by some drugs, certain eyelid problems and environmental factors.
An imbalance in the tear mixture
The tear film covering the eye has three layers: water, oil and mucus. If there’s an imbalance in the tear mixture, your tears will evaporate quickly and you’ll experience dry eye symptoms:
- Oil layer: Oil makes up the top layer. It comes from the edges of the eyelids where fatty oils are produced. The oil smooths the tear surface and slows the rate of tear evaporation. Inflammation along the edge of the eyelids can block the glands at the edge of the eye, causing dry eye.
- Water layer: The thick middle layer is water and salt, and the tear glands produce this layer. This is what keeps the eyes clean and washes away irritants. You can suffer from dry eye symptoms if this layer becomes too thin.
- Mucus layer: This inner layer enables tears to spread evenly over the eyes. An uneven spread can lead to dry patches on the surface of the eye (the cornea).
Insufficient tear production
People who are 40 years or older—especially menopausal women—tend to have less tear production, which causes the eyes to become very dry and irritated. Reduced tear production is also often the result of a vitamin A deficiency, diabetes, radiation treatment, autoimmune disease or refractive eye surgery.
How to get rid of dry eye
An eye exam can tell your doctor what’s going on with your eyes. All treatments for dry eye are geared toward keeping eyes well lubricated, but the best approach for you depends on the underlying cause. While surgery is an option for some dry eye patients, various home remedies can relieve the majority of dry eyes. Protect your eyes to produce more natural tears, use artificial tears, clean under your eyelids and add more omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to your diet.
If you’re experiencing frequent dry eye, contact Dr. Jill’s Optical Shoppe in Oshkosh. We can schedule an eye exam as soon as possible!