Your body naturally produces tears. While you probably know this, did you know that you could develop dry eyes if your eyes didn’t perform this function optimally? In fact, approximately 4.9 million people in the United States suffer from chronic dry eye. The symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe eye problems. This is why you should know when to touch base with Dr. Russell Levine, New York eye specialist.
What Is Dry Eye?
Dry eye disease is an often uncomfortable and irritating condition. It occurs when your eyes fail to produce enough tears, which results in inadequate lubrication. In some cases, the tears might be sufficient but of poor quality.
A dry eye condition is uncomfortable on its own. However, it can be made worse by activities such as sitting in an air-conditioned room, jogging or cycling in the wind, or staring at a screen for hours. Common symptoms of dry eye include:
- Sudden sensitivity to light
- Redness and itchiness in the eyes
- A stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
- Blurry vision
- Heavy eyelids
- Having trouble producing tears
- Watery eyes
Reasons to See a Specialist
Mild dry eyes can usually be treated through over-the-counter medicine. However, you should set up an appointment with an eye specialist if you notice the following:
Dry eyes can be an indicator of some autoimmune diseases like lupus. An autoimmune disease is a condition that causes the body to attack healthy cells. If the disease affects your eye glands, you might develop dry eyes. This is why it is important to see a doctor if your dry eye condition is accompanied by other symptoms. Look out for headaches, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness.
Dry eyes can be the result of some medication you’re taking. Your eyes could also feel itchy after a hike through dusty terrain. Usually, these symptoms will clear on their own in a few days. They are often not a cause for concern. However, if your dry eye symptoms get worse by the day, you should seek medical help. They could be an indicator of a more severe condition.
Symptoms Affecting Your Daily Activities
All dry eye symptoms are irritating. Mild discomfort is easy to take, especially if it doesn’t get in the way of you performing your daily duties. However, if your dry eyes make it difficult for you to look at a screen, read, keep your eyes open, or even sleep, you should see a specialist.
Symptoms Resistant to Over-The-Counter Medication
A good number of mild dry eye cases can be resolved with over-the-counter eye drops. Nonetheless, severe cases tend to be resistant to such remedies. If you can’t alleviate your symptoms through a visit to the pharmacy, make one to the hospital.
Mild dry eyes could be a side effect of some medication you are taking and could clear up on its own. However, if your dry eye problem is painful or preventing you from performing your daily duties, it is time to seek professional help.
Are dry eyes affecting your quality of life? Contact Russell Micah Levine, MD, to discuss your symptoms and possible treatment options with an ophthalmologist.