Living with chronic dry eye symptoms can feel debilitating. Not only are dry eyes uncomfortable, but they can also cause problems with sight, light sensitivity, and basic eye function.
To understand the effects of dry eyes and how they can be treated, it’s important to know how they originate.
How Does Chronic Dry Eye Disease Develop?
There are several factors that can lead to chronic dry eyes including:
The meibomian gland produces vital oils that work alongside your tears to keep your eyes well lubricated. When a person develops meibomian gland dysfunction, they produce less oil and sometimes lower quality oil, resulting in dry eyes.
Tear Production Issues
Damage to your tear ducts or tear glands can lead to issues with tear production and cause painful dry eyes. It’s common to experience such damage if you also struggle with autoimmune or inflammatory diseases like:
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid disease
- Chronic eye allergies
Patients who have experienced decreased corneal sensation can also develop tear production issues that lead to chronic dry eyes. Decreased corneal sensation can develop from:
- Wearing contact lenses for too long
- Certain viral infections, e.g., shingles
What are the Symptoms of Chronic Dry Eyes?
Patients with chronic dry eye disease experience several painful sensations, including:
- Eyes that burn and sting
- Eyes that feel gritty on the surface
- Blurry vision
- Long-lasting redness in the eyes
Can Dry Eyes Be Treated?
Whether a dry-eye condition is mild or severe, there are treatment options to relieve symptoms and help patients regain normal tear production.
Sometimes dry eyes can simply be treated with:
- Artificial tear solutions
- Applied heat (like a hot compress)
- Ointments massaged onto the eyelids
If the condition is resistant to simpler treatment, a patient may use:
- Eye lubricants with extended protection
- Prescription eye drops
- Scleral lenses
There are even certain procedures your eye doctor can perform to help you return to normal eye function.