Kelowna Optometrist Explains Dry Eye Syndrome

Young woman rubbing her dry eyes

Kelowna Optometrist Explains Dry Eye Syndrome

The Okanagan Valley is one of the driest climates in Canada, so it’s no mystery that many people in the area struggle with dry eyes syndrome. Having dry eyes can be a distracting, and irritable issue to deal with. Unfortunately, it’s a common and often chronic problem. If your body doesn’t produce enough tears to keep the surface of your eye adequately lubricated, you may notice a gritty, itchy feeling in your eye areas. Normally, every time the eye blinks, it lubricates the surface of your eye, keeping it smooth and clean. However, when this isn’t working properly, finding relief from the constant discomfort may be a distraction that disturbs you throughout your day.

Dry Eye Symptoms

Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include a gritty feeling or feeling like there is something in your eye. You may experience itching, redness, blurry vision and light sensitivity. On occasion, dry eyes create too many tears. This perplexing condition is called reflex tearing. The lack of moisture tends to irritate the eyes, which causes the eyes to send a distress signal through your nervous system for more lubrication. This causes your body to send out a flood of tears to compensate for the dryness.

This is similar to what happens when you get an eyelash in your eye and it runs. However, these tears are mostly comprised of water, so they don’t function like normal tears which would bring more relief to your irritated eyes.Tears are comprised of four properties: water for moisture, oils for lubrication, mucus for even spreading and antibodies and special proteins that help fight infections. When the special glands around your eyes that produce these ingredients are not functioning properly, it can cause immense discomfort and annoyance.

Man rubbing his dry eyes

Dry Eye Disease Causes

Tears are important for keeping your eyes feeling comfortable and clean. Excess tears push any foreign debris into the corner of your eye where it drains into the back of the nose. Unfortunately, the chances of having dry eye syndrome increase with age as tear production usually decreases.

Women are also more likely to experience dry eye syndrome. The hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause, or from taking oral contraceptives can influence tear production. Some environmental conditions can contribute to dryer eyes. We all know wind, smoke and dust can cause tears to fill our eyes, but did you know screen time can cause you to cry too?Medical conditions may also contribute to dryer eyes, such as having laser eye surgery which can cause dry eyes for a period of time. Certain drugs, such as antihistamines may also cause your eyes to feel dry.

Dry Eyes Treatment

There are some self-care treatments you can do to naturally reduce irritation from dry eyes. Increasing the humidity in your home, blinking often and drinking plenty of water may help reduce irritation in your eyes. Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays and wind can also help, as well as removing any and all eye makeup completely at night. You can also use contact lenses that are specifically made to reduce the risk of contact lens-related dry eye symptoms.

And of course, you can apply eye drops; which is one of the most common treatments for dry eyes. Choosing the eye drops that are right for you may be an overwhelming process since there are so many brands available at a variety of ingredients and viscosities (“thicknesses”). Because of this, you may have to try a few to figure out what’s right for you. You can also have your local optometrist recommend a brand.

Are you experiencing symptoms associated with dry eye syndrome? Booking an eye exam at Sun Valley Optometry will help identify the cause of the problem, and recommend a course of treatment. We’re conveniently located in the Orchard Park Shopping Centre and offer flexible eye exam appointment times.

Book an Exam

All of our optometrists are currently accepting new patients. Contact us today and we will be happy to help with your eye care needs.