Dry-eye can be an extremely common issue, and many people with this condition don’t even realize they have a problem. If you have chronic dry-eye that isn’t profoundly impacting your daily life, it can be easy to accept and get used to the discomfort. Dry eyes can be caused by insufficient tears or structural defects in the eye, and the only way to determine what is causing your dry eyes is through an eye exam. Although dry eyes may seem like a minor nuisance, they can have short-term and long-term negative effects.
One of the first signals that someone has dry eyes is excessive blinking. If you’re not looking for it, you may not even notice that you or someone you know is blinking more than normal. Excessive blinking can be an involuntary response to a number of issues, including slight pain, eyelid heaviness, tiredness, burning, stinging, gritty feeling, or dryness itself. In addition, dry eye can cause small bursts of excess tear production followed by dry periods, stringy eye discharge, redness, blurred vision, trouble producing tears when crying, and/or reduced tolerance for eye strain. Left unaddressed, each of these symptoms can worsen and lead to more serious problems.
People with chronically dry eyes are prone to long-term eye problems as well. The longer the eyes lack sufficient lubrication, the more likely they are to become inflamed, sustain abrasions, develop ulcers, and/or degrade in visual acuity. All of these effects can damage the surface of the eye. Dry-eye can also make the eyes overly sensitive to light, causing additional discomfort such as headaches. Furthermore, because one of the main purposes tears serve is to protect the surface of the eye from getting infected, a lack of tears can lead to recurring eye infections.
The accumulation and repetition of the aforementioned short-term and long-term effects of dry eye can cascade into all sorts of additional issues. It’s easy to take your eyes for granted, but because they’re one of the main ways we interface with the world, seemingly minor issues can add up to consequential problems. If you have chronic dry eye but neglect to treat it, it can lead to trouble seeing on the road, difficulty concentrating on your job or schoolwork, or general problems with your overall quality of life.
For such soft, exposed, complex organs, the eyes are surprisingly resilient—so long as they’re in good working condition. Fortunately, we have several ways of treating dry eyes. If you think you have excessively dry eyes, or if you would like to schedule a routine or comprehensive medical eye exam, please contact Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay at Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons today to make an appointment. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more tips, points of interest, and news.