Scratchy dry eyes? What causes them and how to treat them…

Causes of Dry Eyes

Up to 30% of the U.S. population suffers from dry eyes. Dry eyes can develop from many different causes. Dry eyes become more of an issue the older a person gets, its associated with the aging process, especially in postmenopausal women. Dry eye conditions can last days or a life-time depending on the person’s condition and the cause. Some of the medications that can cause dry eyes include; allergy medications, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants. Conditions that are known to cause dry eyes include older patients, agents in the air that a person is allergic to, and laser eye surgery.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eyes

Signs and symptoms of dry eyes can vary depending on a person’s condition. Normally people complain about having something in their eye and that it feels gritty or scratchy. Complaints of a burning or stinging sensation are also possible. Typically, symptoms of dry eye get worse by the end of the day or with exposure to extreme environmental conditions. Other complaints are that of excess tearing that is followed by periods of dryness, pain, and redness. The feeling of heavy eyes lids and blurred vision are sometimes reported.

Possible Treatments for Dry Eyes

Without proper and timely treatment of dry eyes it is possible to damage the eye. Treatment should include both medications and life-style changes. Possible medication treatments include artificial tears, ointment eye drops, and omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Artificial tears lubricate the eye and act as a barrier to help defend against various agents that can cause dry eyes. Ointment eye drops can contain lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum. Ointment eye drops can help prevent water loss in the eye while lubricating them. They are the mainstay for treating dry eyes. However, they feel like a clear cream, and might cause the person to have temporary blurry vision. This type of eye drop is most often used at night. Life-style changes include avoiding agents that make the dry eyes worse, using a humidifier, and using warm compresses on the eye lids.

People with severe dry eyes should see an ophthalmologist. Signs of severe dry eyes include painful red eyes or signs of an eye infection. Eye infections many times present with the discharge of yellow pus that may be crusty. Even when using products to self-treat dry eye from a pharmacy, it is still recommended to see an ophthalmologist. This is because ophthalmologists can suggest other options that might be needed to treat the dry eyes.