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Dry Eye Syndrome is pretty much just what it sounds like. It’s an eye condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye, causing it to be dry. People with dry eyes typically do not produce enough tears or do not produce enough oil in their tears to keep their tears on their eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining healthy eyes and ensuring clear vision.

What causes dry eye?

Dry eye is extremely common, especially here in Missouri, and can be problematic year round. Dry eyes can be caused by a variety of things such as your heater in the winter, your fan in the summer or just staring at the computer screen for too long. Environmental conditions such as wind and smoke can also contribute to dry eye and certain medications can reduce tear production in the eye.

People over the age of 65 often experience symptoms of dry eyes as do women going through hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause.

How do I know if I have dry eye?

You may have guessed that one of the symptoms of dry eye is dry eyes! But you probably didn’t know that excess watering of the eyes is also a symptom of dry eye syndrome. Other symptoms include irritation, scratching or burning of the eyes.

How to treat dry eye

The way to treat a dry eye is to restore or maintain a normal amount of tears with lubrication. A good lubricant eye drop can do the trick! At Family Focus Eyecare we recommend Blink eye drops. Any time your eyes itch, burn or water – put in a drop. The good news is that you can’t overuse them as there is nothing in them that can hurt your eye. However, if you find yourself using them excessively (10 times a day or more) you most likely need something stronger. Come see us and we can get you taken care of.

We recommend staying away from Visine or Clear Eyes as these actually make your eyes redder and dryer and accelerate the problem. And we also don’t recommend using contact lens cleaner unless you’re really in a bind. Multipurpose solutions have a lot of preservatives in them and with continued use can cause little pinpoint abrasions called spk (Superficial punctate keratitis).

Ways to avoid dry eye

Keep these tips in mind to reduce the symptoms of dry eyes:

  • Blink regularly when reading or looking at a computer screen
  • Use a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors to protect your eyes from wind and the sun

— Dr. Joseph D. Rich

Written by Dr. Joseph Rich

Dr. Joseph D. Rich moved to Columbia shortly after completing his doctorate at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN. Growing up and completing his undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, and business management at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, MO, Dr. Rich considers himself a full-fledged Mizzou fan and actively enjoys going to as many games as possible.
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