Short of relationship issues, loss of someone important, or just sad for some reason, we really don’t usually go around crying.. Or do we? Sometimes we seem to just have watery eyes all the time. This is so confusing but it is a sign of dry eyes. Now I have to admit I love a tear jerker movie or a chick flick to make me have a good cry but dry eyes are nothing to sneeze at. It’s not just an inconvenience.
Sometimes I get so mad because I can’t keep makeup on so why bother. Mascara is impossible. I know you ladies understand what I’m talking about. Dry eyes seem to get worse as we age. Genetic causes are a possible reason for dry eyes as well. Studies show that dry eyes are one of the most common eye problems throughout the United States. Dry eyes are caused by a lack of quality tear production and are most common in both men and women over the age of 50.
Dry eyes are caused by a number of reasons but the most common reason is Blepharitis. You say what in the heck is that? It’s an inflammation of the eyelid most often associated with an infection. Blepharitis can be treated but can be chronic in nature as well. In addition to blepharitis there are small glands along the lower and upper lid margins called meibomian glands, These glands produce an oily film which mixes with the watery saline to produce healthy tears. This oily mix doesn’t evaporate as quickly. But as we age, those glands either become clogged or diseased and stop functioning. Sometimes they can be treated so they will begin to produce tears again but sometimes they are just gone.
Certain medications or diseases can also cause dry eyes. Allergy medications are notorious for drying out the eyes. CPAP usage is also a major culprit because of the blow by air flow as do overhead fans. Birth control can also contribute to dry eyes making contact lens wear almost impossible in some patients. Sometimes diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause this to happen earlier in life than normal dry eyes related to aging.
So as you can see it isn’t just a problem with watery eyes. It is a health problem for our eyes and our vision. Don’t despair.. there are treatments, but no cures, yet. We all know about the over the counter eye drops. I personally want everyone to stay away from Visine. However, artificial tears are a good solution for early dry eyes. As with anything that has a little age on it, the higher viscosity works best for high mileage models. There is also an ointment for bedtime. I like to prescribe this for those with cpaps or people that love a fan. It acts like a barrier and replenishes the eye with moisture during your sleep. Hot compresses, usually 10 minutes twice a day helps to get the meibomian glands working better. Ask about how to make this work best for you. In office treatments include expression of the glands as well as a treatment called Lipiflow. Currently this is not covered by insurance and is an out of pocket treatment but it really does make a difference. We also have prescription medications available such as Restasis and Xiidra.
Like I said earlier, there are no cures, but we can treat it and help you to not cry all the time. I can’t help with the the relationships.