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Should I Be Concerned About Dry Eyes?

November 1, 2021

If you’ve experienced dry eyes (and most people have), you know how uncomfortable it can be. Dryness can happen for many different reasons, and some should be looked into. As with most any symptom or health issue, the more often it happens, the more serious it may be. Here a Los Angeles CA optometrist talks about dry eyes, their effects, and which symptoms warrant cause for concern. 

What Causes Dry Eyes

Your eyes’ ability to produce natural tears lies at the root of dry eyes. This problem can take different forms:

  • Your tears may evaporate too quickly
  • Your eyes may not produce enough tears
  • Your tears may not contain the right amount of water, fatty oils, mucus, and/or proteins

Dry eyes result when one or more of the above conditions exist. 

In effect, tears form a moisturizing film over your eyes that should be replenished each time you blink. And the importance of tears goes well beyond preventing dryness. Here are a few other things tears do:

  • Deliver oxygen and nutrient supplies to the eyes
  • Guard against infection
  • Help focus incoming light
  • Promote healing when your eye is damaged

Help remove dirt and irritants

Dry Eyes Symptoms

  • Mucous in or around the eyes
  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision
  • Burning, stinging, itching
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Watery eyes
  • Tired-looking eyes or heavy eyelids
  • Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
  • Little to no tear production when you feel like crying

Risk Factors

Risk factors for developing dry eyes take different forms, ranging from environmental conditions to underlying health issues. Here are a few things that can increase your chances of developing dry eyes:

  • Being over 50 years old
  • Certain medications, such as decongestants and antihistamines
  • Eye gland problems
  • Low estrogen levels
  • Inflammatory disorders, such as Rosacea and inflamed eyelids

Pollen, smoke, or dry air

Engaging in activities that make you blink less often, such as driving, reading, watching TV, and time spent on digital devices

Knowing When It’s Time to See an Eye Specialist

Not all cases of dry eyes are serious, so over-the-counter remedies or a trip to your family doctor may be all that’s needed. However, if dryness reaches a point where it interferes with your ability to do day-to-day tasks, it may be time to see your optometrist. 

An optometrist can determine what’s causing dryness and whether it’s become advanced. Advanced cases can lead to more serious problems, like pain, corneal ulcers, or scars on the eye’s surface. If you’ve been struggling with dry eyes for a while now, please don’t hesitate to call your Los Angeles optometrist to get checked out.

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