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Why are my eyes so dry all of the time?
Dry eyes is a very common condition that occurs when your natural tears fail to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Dry eyes may occur if you do not produce enough tears or your tear production is of poor quality.
Dry eyes are uncomfortable and may sting or cause a burning sensation. The condition can be more pronounced in certain situations such as in an air conditioned room , on an airplane, after looking at a computer screen for a couple hours or after riding a bicycle.
Symptoms of dry eye include:
*A scratchy, itching or burning sensation in your eyes
*Stringy mucous in and around your eyes
*A foreign body sensation in your eyes
*Photophobia (light sensitivity)
*Difficulty with contact lens wear
*Difficulty driving at night
The medical term for dry eyes is KERATOCONJUNCTIVITIS SICCA. Common causes include:
*Predisposition to medical conditions including diabetes, lupus, sclerodema, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorder, Sjogren's syndrome and vitamin A deficiency
*Some medications including decongestants, antihistamines, HRT, antidepressants and drugs for hypertension, acne, birth control and Parkinson's disease
*Tear gland damage from radiation or inflammation
Some factors making it more likely you will experience dry eye include:
*Your age. Being over 50, tear production tends to diminish making dry eye more common
*Your gender. Being a woman , lack of tear production is more common in women
*Eating a diet LOW in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids
*Wearing contact lenses
People with dry eye syndrome may experience the following complications including, but not limited to, Eye infections, damage to the surface of the eyes and decreased quality of life
Dry eye sufferers must pay attention to the situations that are most likely to cause their symptoms and find ways to avoid those situations in order to prevent the symptoms. For example:
*Avoid air blowing in your eyes, i.e. hair dryers, car heaters or air conditioners
*Add moisture to the air, try using a humidifier
*Wear wrap around sunglasses or other protective eyewear, this may help block the wind and dry air from blowing into your eyes
*Take breaks during long tasks, close your eyes or blink repeatedly for a few seconds to help spread your tears out
*Be aware of your environment, airplanes, deserts and high altitudes are very dry
*Position your computer screen below eye level, in this position your eyes are not wide open
*Stop smoking and avoid smoke, as smoke worsens symptoms
*Use artificial tears regularly, keep your eyes well lubricated
Your eye doctor will do some procedures and tests to determine the cause of your dry eye.
*A comprehensive eye exam, including a full history of your overall health
*Measuring the volume of your tears, this will be done using the Schirmer test
*Determine tear quality, using other tests to determine the surface condition of your eyes.
The use of over the counter artificial tears is enough for occasional symptoms, However, the options for treatment depend on what is causing your dry eyes. Your eye doctor will determine the cause and explain the best potential treatment options for you.