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What Causes Dry Eye?

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Dry eye syndrome can cause serious harm to your quality of life. Gritty-feeling, red, dry eyes can be incredibly uncomfortable and can make it hard to function during everyday activities. In extreme cases, it can even be sight-threatening.

So, what causes dry eyes, and how can it be treated or prevented? Our Austin eye care team has compiled a list of 5 common causes of dry eye symptoms, and how they may be addressed.

Electronic Devices And Dry Eye

In this day and age, you simply can’t escape spending hours every day on electronic devices such as tablets, computers, smartphones or TVs. These devices can make our work more productive, and keep us endlessly entertained, but they can also wreak havoc on your eyes.

Studies have shown that extended periods of time on computers and tablets contribute significantly to dry eye syndrome by reducing your blink rate by as much as half, and by keeping you from drinking water, leaving your body (and by extension, your eyes) dehydrated. These long hours on electronic screens also subject your eyes to the demands of extended near-vision tasks, which can lead to eyestrain and further contribute to dry eye symptoms.

You can avoid dry eyes from electronic devices by taking a few easy steps:

  • Every 20 minutes or so, take a 2-minute eye break. Look away from your screen, blink a few times, and maybe go get a drink of water. This will rehydrate your body and your eyes!
  • Keep screens at arms-length, preferably about 20 inches away. This minimizes eye strain from near-vision tasks as described above.
  • Use a humidifier to add water to the air in the office to keep your eyes well-hydrated while you work.

Ocular Rosacea and Dry Eye

Many people are familiar with the red splotches that can sometimes be seen on the skin, especially on the face, that characterizes rosacea. What many are not aware of is that rosacea can also affect your eyes, causing many symptoms, including dry eyes, redness, burning and itching of the eyes.

Ocular rosacea is more common in people who also have it on their skin, though it can also occur on its own. Many of the same triggers that can inflame skin rosacea will also affect ocular rosacea. To prevent dry eye and other symptoms, you should avoid:

  • Certain emotions, such as stress, anger or embarrassment
  • Overly hot baths or saunas
  • Alcohol
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Extreme temperatures, wind or sun
  • Very hot or spicy foods or beverages

Contact Lenses and Dry Eyes

If you’re a contact lens wearer, you may be at increased risk for experiencing dry eye symptoms. This often happens as a result of the contact lenses preventing enough oxygen from reaching the eye. Though contact lenses are more gas permeable than ever, and therefore let in more oxygen than they used to, wearing contact lenses for too long during the day, or falling asleep in your contacts can lead to dry eye asa result of reduced oxygen.

Another reason for dry eyes resulting from contact lenses is the absorption of moisture directly from the eye by the contacts, in order to stay soft and hydrated. This occurs in particularly dry climates, or if the contact lenses are of poor quality or are not fitted properly to the wearer’s eye.

Things you can do to prevent dry eye symptoms from your contacts include:

  • Make sure to only wear high-quality lenses that have good oxygen permeability. Silicone hydrogel lenses are particularly good for you if you routinely suffer from dry eyes. You may also consider hard lenses, since they don’t pull liquid from your eyes as much as soft lenses.
  • Make sure to dispose of lenses according to their recommended wearing time. Daily lenses should be changed out daily, monthly contacts monthly, etc. You should also change out your lens case every few weeks to prevent the build-up of germs that could cause dry eye symptoms.
  • Make sure your contact lenses are properly fitted by going for a contact lens exam with our Austin eye doctors at Freedom Eye Care today!