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Getting Help for Dry Eyes can Improve Quality of Life

In our digital age, it is nearly impossible to completely avoid the feeling of dry, gritty, watery eyes. These symptoms are common today and often relate to the time we spend in front of a computer. When we aren’t staring at a computer screen, we have our eyes locked on our smartphone much of the time. Habits like these encourage us to blink less frequently, disrupting the process that lubricates the eye. Sometimes, the symptoms we’ve described do boil down to the fact that we just need to take a time out from our digital devices. However, they may also indicate dry eye disease.

How Tears Work

Tears are not just water, they are a precise combination of water, mucus, and oil. Tears are produced by a gland in the eye and are then spread across the ocular surface with every blink. Tears must also exit the eye, which they do through tiny drains. People with dry eye disease have some sort of mix-up in the tearing process. They may be lacking the proper ratio of substances, such as having too little oil to hold tears on the eye longer, or may not be producing enough substance to adequately coat the eye. Whatever the reason for an insufficient tear film, treatment is necessary to avoid permanent damage to the eye.

Consequences of Untreated Dry Eye

According to statistics, nearly one-third of all adults in the world have dry eye disease. The problem with this number is that many of them don’t know it. As we mentioned, digital eye strain presents similar symptoms as dry eye disease. People simply don’t know that their ocular function could be amiss. In a recent interview, Jennifer Aniston admitted to a years-long addiction to eye drops. As she self-treated to get through the day, she had no idea that she was merely managing symptoms. Once her dry eye was accurately diagnosed, her quality of life improved.

Getting the Answers We Need

To diagnose dry eye disease, an ophthalmologist may conduct several screening techniques. The first is a symptom questionnaire that thoroughly examines the finite details of symptoms, such as how often they occur, how long they last, and the sensations that occur. Additionally, it is necessary to understand where tear production is not functioning as it should. These requires tests such as:

  • Schirmer tear test, which provides a measurement of tear production.
  • Tear-film osmolarity test, which indicates the salt-to-water ratio in tears.
  • Tear breakup time shows how quickly tears evaporate from the surface of the eye.
  • Corneal fluorescein staining examines the cornea to see if damage has occurred.

Dry eye disease can be a chronic problem that decreases productivity and quality of life. Get the help you need. Call your Winchester, VA eye doctor at 540.722.6200.

Posted in: Eye Health

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