Dry eyes are more than just a nuisance. Over time, chronic dry eyes can lead to permanent damage if left untreated. According to a recent poll, dry eye symptoms affect almost 50 percent of Americans, yet we often ignore the telltale signs and write them off as simple inconveniences.
But did you know constant dry eyes can lead to pain, ulcers, corneal abrasions, and, in extreme cases, vision loss? The first step in getting the right treatment in East Tennessee for this common condition is recognizing the symptoms before they lead to bigger problems for your vision. Be on the lookout for the following eight warning signs of chronic dry eyes:
- Itching: This is a universal symptom of dry eyes, and it comes from a lack of lubrication. Either the eyes aren’t producing enough tears, or the tears aren’t the right quality and evaporate too quickly. When itchiness occurs, you should resist the urge to rub your eyes, as this may exacerbate further irritation.
- Burning: Stinging or burning are common sensations for dry eye sufferers. Just like with itching, the lack of lubrication can cause this uncomfortable feeling.
- Light Sensitivity: If your eyes are easily irritated by bright light, it could be another sign of dry eyes. A healthy tear film can help the eyes adjust to various lighting, but dry eye sufferers often lack this protection. Sunglasses can help, especially ones the wrap around as they can aid in preventing tear evaporation.
- Redness: When your eyes are red, it’s their way of communicating the irritation that results from dry eyes. When using over-the-counter eye drops to help alleviate redness, eye care professionals agree that drops advertising “getting the red out” are counterproductive as they constrict the blood vessels in the eyes. Pure lubricating drops are much better.
- Soreness & Fatigue: If you work at a computer or are often in dry environments, your eyes may feel sore or tired as a result of dry eye symptoms. Staring at a computer or other device all day, in particular, may exacerbate dry eyes due to the tendency of slowed blinking. The result of friction from lack of tears can cause the sensations of soreness and fatigue.
- Blurred Vision: Dry eye symptoms, left untreated, can possibly lead to the development of corneal callouses that can cause blurred vision. Vision obstruction can become permanent if not addressed by an eye care professional.
- Foreign Body Sensation: When your eyes are dry, it can feel like there is a bit of dirt or debris present. This irritation can cause very small abrasions on your cornea. Using preservative-free rewetting drops and keeping your eyelids properly cleaned can help with relief. If the sensation does not go away quickly after proper lubrication, medical help should be sought right away.
- Tear Overproduction: This is the most surprising symptom of chronic dry eyes. It’s indeed a paradox, but excessive fluid production can indicate dry eye syndrome. This occurs when the eyes produce insufficient tear production themselves, so the body essentially responds with “emergency” tears to compensate. In some cases, tears may even be streaming down the cheeks of a dry eye sufferer for no apparent reason.
If any of these eight symptoms are an unwelcome part of your daily life, it’s time to seek medical help. At EyeCare Optical, a division of Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun and carrying on the practice’s over 65-year tradition of treated East Tennesseans, our board-certified Knoxville area Optometrists have all the knowledge and expertise to develop an effective treatment plan to protect your precious vision from the potential ravages from chronic dry eyes. Call us at (865) 584-0905 to learn more and schedule your visit and be on your way to the relief you crave.