By Dr. Jill Finke, OD
Our eyes need moisture to be able to function well. Normally, a healthy tear film covers the eye with every blink to keep the eye surface moist and healthy. When there is not enough moisture on the surface of your eyes, it is called dry eye. Dry eyes can cause more than eye irritation and redness. A dry eye surface can also be the cause of visual blur, excessive eye watering, and even ocular inflammation.
Dry eye is common–affecting millions of American each year. Dry eye can affect men and women of all ages. There are many reasons for dry eye. Some common causes of dry eye include aging, hormonal changes, environment, medications, infections, and systemic diseases. Also, nutrition plays a part in moisture of the eye surface. In particular, vitamin A (found in carrots and broccoli) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, walnuts, and vegetable oils) are essential to helping your body make healthy tears.
The good news is that there are many options for improving the health of your tears, as well as relieving dry eye. The most common treatment for mild dry eye is to use over-the-counter moisturizing drops for your eyes. Adding moisture to the eye surface can help dry eyes to feel better. Additionally, your eye care doctor can recommend lifestyle changes, eyelid health treatment, and prescription medications to improve the health of your eyes.
If your eyes are irritated, talk over your options with your eye care doctor. He or she will help you to determine the cause of your discomfort and find a treatment plan that works for you.