What to do when the tears dry

STOCK PHOTO Dry eyes are common, and usually temporary, but there are more serious conditions that can be a cause. If symptoms become serious or persist despite frequent eye drop usage, see a doctor.

Winter in Colorado is here, and you know what that means. Dry weather and low temperatures! While the Colorado weather may be a blessing for ski bunnies, it doesn't do any favors for our eyes. Dry eyes may be mostly a nuisance, but there are times when a professional needs to step in and take action. Read on to learn more about dry eyes.

What are dry eyes?

Dry eye is a very common condition affecting millions of Americans. Blinking naturally washes the eye with "healthy" tears to nourish the cornea. While dry eye can affect individuals differently, it's caused by a temporary or chronic reduction in tear quality and quantity. This prevents your eyes from being adequately lubricated.

Evaporative Dry Eye (EDE) — a chronic and progressive condition — is the most common form of dry eyes. Over 85% of EDE cases demonstrate signs of Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), which impedes the secretion of oily lipids that keep tears from evaporating.

Dry eye symptoms can include:

  • Redness
  • Grittiness
  • Irritation
  • Eye fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Burning

Dry eyes can get in the way of simple tasks such as watching television, driving, wearing contacts comfortably, or even reading The Daily Sentinel. Symptoms are commonly associated with allergies and infections, but dry eyes are also related to:

  • Aging
  • Hormone changes
  • Long periods of screen time spent with computers, smartphones, and video games
  • Antihistamines
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Low humidity and windy weather

If you are using lubricating eye drops multiple times throughout the day, and still notice dry eye symptoms, it's time to get a professional opinion.

How eye professionals can help

If you are diagnosed with dry eye, don't worry. There are plenty of treatments that don't require surgery. Depending on the severity of your condition, options can vary.

For example, many over-the-counter options exist, including artificial tears and evaporative dry eye solutions. When more involved treatment is needed, an ophthalmologist can recommend:

Serum eye drops – artificial tears made from a DNA sample to fit an individual's biology.

Punctual plugs – Small biocompatible devices inserted into the eye to block tear ducts and keep natural tears in place.

Eyelid expression – An in-office procedure to open glands and stimulate healthy tear production.

An innovative treatment option involves the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System. Made by TearScience, the machine uses heat and pressure to address the root cause of dry eye and unclog Meibomian glands. No drugs are required with LipiFlow and the delicate structure of the eyes are fully protected within its contoured design.

Having eye discomfort?

With the colder weather approaching, experts at ICON Eyecare Grand Junction can help you understand how dry eyes can affect your life. If advanced medical care is needed, our professionals are ready to discuss your specific options.

Brought to you by ICON Eyecare Grand Junction, 1000 Wellington Ave., 844-435-2020, grandjunctioneyecare.com.

Recommended for you