Dry eye disease (DED) is a prevalent issue in the United States, affecting 16.4 million adults who have been formally diagnosed and an additional 6 million who show symptoms but have yet to receive a diagnosis.
As we celebrate more birthdays, the likelihood of experiencing dry eyes increases. Dr. Pinkhasov attributes this to two primary factors: hormonal changes and medications. Women undergoing menopause may find themselves particularly susceptible due to fluctuating hormone levels, which can impact tear production. Additionally, medications for various health conditions that become more common with age can also have dry eyes as a side effect.
Note: Before discontinuing any medication due to dry eyes, consult with your primary care physician or eye doctor for personalized advice.
Warm compresses can be particularly effective for dry eyes. Dr. Pinkhasov explains that the oil glands in our eyelids, crucial for tear production, can become blocked as we age. A daily regimen of applying warm compresses for 5-10 minutes, followed by a gentle lid massage, can help open these glands.
Over-the-counter artificial tears can provide immediate relief for mild cases. For more severe symptoms, your eye doctor may prescribe specialized eyedrops.
More advanced treatment options include in-office procedures that heat and stimulate the blocked oil glands. Additionally, Punctal plugs can be inserted to help retain tears on the eye's surface, further alleviating dryness.
If you're facing symptoms of dry eyes, the best course of action is to schedule a comprehensive dry eye evaluation. Your eye doctor can then offer tailored treatment options to provide relief.