Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are You Suffering From Dry Eye Syndrome?

I think I have something In My Eye

Dry Eye Syndrome is a chronic condition where our eyes don't produce as many tears as they should and it can become increasingly pronounced as we get older. Small areas on the eye surface become exposed as the composition of the tears deteriorates leaving them exposed to dryness and irritants. It also can mimic symptoms of having poked, scratched or retained something in the eye....only after an hour of having someone look into your eye, they can't see anything.

I have been suffering from this since my late 30's, and it gets worse during the winter months.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Foreign Object Sensation
  • Gritty Feeling
  • Excessive Tearing
  • Blurred Vision
  • Sensitivity To Light
  • Itchiness
Causes Of Dry Eye

Tears are made up of more than just water. They're a complex mixture of water, fatty oils, proteins, electrolytes, bacteria-fighting substances and growth factors that regulate various cell processes. This mixture helps make the surface of your eyes smooth and clear. Without tears, good vision is impossible.

For some people, the cause of dry eyes is an imbalance in the composition of their tears. Other people don't produce enough tears to keep their eyes comfortably lubricated. Eyelid problems, medications and other causes, such as environmental factors, also can lead to dry eyes.

Although dry eyes can affect both men and women at any age, the condition is more common among women, especially after menopause. (that would be me) This may be due in part to hormonal changes. Dry eyes are also associated with some medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren's syndrome and vitamin A deficiency.

Certain Medications can also cause symptoms of dry eye.
  • Diuretics
  • Antihistamines
  • Birth Control Pills
  • Some Antidepressants
  • Sleeping Pills
Other apparent causes are exposure to many environmental conditions that have a drying effect, such as sun, wind, high altitude, a dry climate, hot blowing air and the dry air that commonly occurs in the cabins of commercial airplanes.

Most of those pretty much describe my situation, Cold, windy, dry air, forced heat in my home, higher altitude..... I live a little above 3000 ft.

Also don't forget tasks that require intense visual concentration, such as working at a computer, driving or reading tend to decrease your blink rate, thereby increasing tear evaporation.

Only Your Doctor Knows For Sure

I didn't try to self treat for very long since my eyes are very important to me and out of concern of something more serious, I sought medical advice sooner rather than later.

Although dry eyes don't usually cause permanent damage, diminished vision may prompt you to seek medical treatment.

See your doctor if you've had prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eyes, including red, irritated, tired or painful eyes. Your doctor can take steps to determine what's bothering your eyes or refer you to a specialist.

Contradiction To Dry Eye

Some may experience excessive tearing as I do....dealing with the endless stream of tears flowing out of the corner of the eye, requiring me to carry a Kleenex with me everywhere.....dab, dab, wipe. Then by the time I am done soaking up the tears the corners of my eyes are raw and stinging.

This continued tearing of the eye is due to the eye reaching a level of irritation and dryness beyond the normal range, whereby the tear glands overproduce reflex tears to compensate. However, as my doctor explained to me, these are not quality tears, since they do not contain the lubricating fatty oils or mucus designed to lubricate the eye. This is more of a flushing of the eye, as if you poked it or stood facing into the wind. Lubricating the eye will actually stop the excessive tearing.

Treatments For Dry Eyes

For the most part, you can treat dry eye with lubricating drops located at your local pharmacy. I have been fortunate to be able to maintain a healthy eye simply by using these without resorting to a stronger prescription.

The one I use was recommended by my eye doctor and they are preservative free and are in single sterile vials for several uses. They can be resealed with a tiny cap and carried in your pocket or purse for a fast treatment when out and about.

Warning: One thing to know is, don't use Visine or other Eye Drops that are designed to remove redness or infuse antihistamine into the eyes for allergy sufferers. These will actually make dry eyes far worse.

Celluvisc and Refresh P.M.

These great eye treatments have worked wonders for me keeping my eyes in good condition. I apply them in the morning before I put on my eye makeup and this prevents any eye tearing during the application....after all who wants runny eyes when trying to put on that eye liner or mascara.

Refresh Celluvisc is the extra strength formula and are super lubricating giving instant relief since the Refresh drops in Plus or Classic weren't sustainable for me.

At night time I switch to the Refresh P.M. since this is an actual eye ointment and heavy lubricant designed to keep the surface of the eye from drying out all night.

Be aware this ointment will blur vision so using at bedtime is ideal. Also the reason for the switch to ointment at night is due to Celluvisc forming a protective layer that will begin to dry out while you sleep and can cause your eyelashes to stick together and make it difficult to get your eyes open. This formula is better for day use where you can continue to blink while it works keeping the surface of the eye well lubricated.

Visit the Refresh Products Website

Doctors Opinion On Restasis

This is a cyclosporine opthalmic emulsion and one that the FDA approves for use in the eye for increasing your natural tear function. This has some side effects that I am not crazy about, plus use of an immunosuppressant long term, especially in my eyes gives me great concern. Click on Restasis Label for more info.

My doctor also described some of the side effects such as burning, stinging, blurred vision and foreign body sensation in the eye....and I'm thinking, "where is the benefit?" Sounds like dry eye symptoms to me and why would I want more of the same?

My doctor whom is quite conservative and believes in naturopathic approach combined with smart medicine also informed me of how it really works. She told me it will take up to 4-6 weeks before there are any signs of improvement of my eyes doing what comes naturally....producing their own tears. So she advised to use the eye drops I have reviewed here since the benefits are immediate and she has found they really have done an exceptional job at maintaining eye health.

Just realize that if you are suffering from a very dry eye, Refresh products will also cause some brief stinging or burning along with some blurring, but it stops almost instantaneously after you blink several times. This is only your eyes readjusting to some of that precious moisture they needed.

Home Care For Eye Dryness Prevention

Take these simple steps to help slow evaporation:
  • Avoid air blowing in your eyes. Don't direct hair dryers, car heaters, air conditioners or fans toward your eyes. Ceiling Fans really bother me if I am sitting beneath them.
  • Wear glasses on windy days and goggles while swimming. The wraparound style of glasses may help reduce the effects of the wind.
  • Add moisture to the air. In winter, a humidifier can add moisture to dry indoor air.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes as this can only irritate them further and possibly scratch the surface of the eye.
  • Take preventive steps. Use eye drops before, rather than after, your eyes become irritated as a result of visually demanding activities. Try to avoid activities that might worsen the problem.
  • Remember to blink! Consciously blinking repeatedly helps spread your own tears more evenly. When performing tasks that require intense visual concentration, take occasional breaks, adding up to about five minutes each hour and rest your eyes by closing your lids for several seconds. Follow this by consciously increasing your blink rate.
  • Allow the steam from your household showers to remain in your home in winter. Due to the forced air heat in a home exhausting the humidity out of the bathroom is not necessary and will help maintain a higher level of comfort.
  • Avoid smoke. Smoke, whether yours or someone else's, can contribute to dry eyes.
I always keep an individual vial of Celluvisc at my desk when on my computer for long hours which is almost everyday. I am guilty of forgetting to blink so Celluvisc supplements my tears and keeps things from getting bad such as the foreign object feeling in my eye....or the sensation someone is poking my eye, like right now.

Time to go....need to rest my eyes now....hope this helps any of those that currently suffer from this malady and seek a doctors assistance to make sure you are not dealing with something more severe. Self help is great, but self diagnosis isn't always wise.

I won't be publishing an article next week due to holiday so.....Enjoy your weekend and watch out for Black Friday so you don't get trampled!

We are also closing early on Wednesday, Nov 25th, at 12 pm to enjoy a long holiday weekend. All orders placed during the holiday weekend will be processed the following week.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving and peace and joy this coming Holiday Season!

Bon Appetit!

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