One of the biggest misconceptions is that laser vision surgeries like PRK cause a condition called dry eyes. In fact, there are a variety of factors that contribute to the development of dry eyes that aren’t related to PRK in any way. Nevertheless, living with dry eyes can be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and sometimes even debilitating.
Here’s what you need to know about the symptoms and true causes of this very common eye condition.
There are a few different symptoms associated with dry eyes. You may have the condition if you notice any of the following:
Your eyes feel dry and stiff
Itchy, irritated eyes
Feeling as though there is something in your eyes
Redness in and around your eyes
Sensitivity to light
Excessive watering (which is actually your body flooding your eyes with moisture to try and counteract dryness)
Dry eyes usually occur for one of two reasons. Firstly, dry eyes can be caused by problems with the glands responsible for creating our tear film. The tear film is made from several components, including protein, water, and oil. Many dry eye cases can be attributed to meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD for short. This is where there is a problem with the glands that produce oil for our tear film, such as blockages caused by hardened oil deposits. Without enough oil, the tear film isn’t as effective as it should be, leading to the symptoms of dry eyes.
Secondly, dry eyes can occur when tear film drains from the eyes too quickly without being replenished, causing the surface to become dehydrated. We need to blink frequently to distribute tear film across the eyes, but activities such as long periods of time looking at a digital device reduce our rate of blinking, causing our eyes to become dry.
Some of the factors that most often contribute to the development of dry eyes include:
Being over the age of 50
Wearing contact lenses
Spending time in windy, dusty, or dry environments
Spending time in air-conditioned or heated environments
Taking certain medications, including some antidepressants and blood pressure drugs
Having certain health conditions, including blepharitis, Lupus, and Sjögren’s Syndrome
Fortunately, if you do suffer from dry eyes there are a variety of treatments available, and your eye doctor will be happy to talk to you through the options open to you. Initially, you will probably be recommended to try artificial tears to lubricate your eyes or medicated eye drops which help to reduce inflammation and irritation. However, exactly what treatments are suggested to you will depend on what your eye doctor believes is the underlying cause of your dry eye.
If meibomian gland dysfunction is the likely cause, you may be told to try treatments to remove blockages, such as warm compresses or LipiFlow thermal pulsation treatment. Meanwhile, if your eye doctor thinks that the tear film is draining too quickly, you may be recommended to try punctal plugs. These are tiny devices inserted into the drainage channels of your eyes to slow the tear film from leaving them.
Learn more about causes of dry eye & PRK laser vision correction, contact Laser Vision Delaware in Wilmington, DE at (302) 656-2020.