Sep 1, 2023 | Dry Eye Syndrome

The Top 5 Risk Factors for Developing Dry Eye Disease

Do you experience dry, irritated, or red eyes on a regular basis? If so, you may be suffering from dry eye disease. Dry eye disease affects millions of people around the world, causing symptoms like blurred vision, light sensitivity, and eye fatigue. Several factors can increase your risk of developing dry eye disease. By understanding these risk factors, you can take steps to protect your eyes and avoid this uncomfortable condition. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at these risk factors and share some tips for managing dry eye symptoms. 

1. Age 

As we get older, our risk of developing dry eye disease increases. This is because the tear glands in our eyes naturally begin to produce less moisture over time, leading to chronic dryness and irritation. If you’re over the age of 50, you may be more likely to experience dry eye symptoms than younger individuals.  

2. Gender 

Women are more likely to develop dry eye disease than men. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and menopause can cause a decrease in the production of tears. Similarly, oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy can increase women’s risk of developing dry eyes. 

3. Certain medications 

Some medications can trigger dry eye disease symptoms like antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medication, hormone replacement, antidepressants, and some painkillers. These medications could interfere with the tear film quality or quantity and increase the risk of developing dry eye disease. You should consult with your healthcare provider if dry eye symptoms persist or increase after taking a prescription medication. 

4. Environmental factors 

Environmental factors play a significant role in triggering or exacerbating dry eye disease. Living in dry or windy climates or exposure to air conditioning or heating can lead to dry eye symptoms. Staring at digital screens for extended periods can also contribute to dry eyes. When people stare at screens, they tend to blink less than when doing other activities. Blinking is essential for maintaining the tear film on the surface of the eyes, which helps keep them lubricated and moist. Proper humidity levels and taking regular breaks from screen time can help mitigate the effects of environmental triggers. 

5. Health conditions 

People with certain health conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disorders are more likely to develop dry eye disease. These conditions can cause inflammation in the body, which can affect the eyes’ ability to produce enough tears. If you have an underlying health condition, work with your healthcare provider to manage your symptoms and reduce your risk for dry eye disease. 

How to manage dry eye symptoms 

Managing eye syndrome can be challenging, but there are several tips and techniques that may provide relief. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Use lubricating eye drops: Nonprescription artificial tears or lubricating eye drops can provide temporary relief by adding moisture to your eyes. Look for products specifically designed for dry eyes. 
  • Apply warm compresses: Applying a warm compress to your closed eyes can help stimulate the production of oils in your eyelids, which can improve tear quality. Use a clean, warm washcloth or try a commercially available warm compress mask. 
  • Increase humidity: Dry indoor air can worsen dry eye symptoms. Using a humidifier can help you maintain proper indoor humidity levels, especially during the winter when indoor heating can cause dryness. Additionally, avoid sitting directly in front of heating or cooling vents. 
  • Take breaks from screens: Extended screen time can lead to dry eyes. Following the 20-20-20 rule is a great way to remember to take frequent breaks. The rule says that you should take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus on something at least 20 feet away. This guideline will help you reduce eye strain and dryness. 
  • Protect your eyes: Shield your eyes from wind, smoke, and other environmental irritants that can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. Wear wraparound sunglasses or goggles when outdoors on windy days. 
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help maintain overall hydration, including your tear production. 
  • Manage underlying conditions: If you have medical conditions that could be causing or exacerbating your dry eye symptoms, work with your healthcare provider to manage these conditions effectively. 
  • Consider omega-3 supplements: Studies show that adding omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish oil, to your diet may potentially provide relief from dry eye symptoms. However, it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider before you start taking any new supplements. They can provide personalized guidance and ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your specific health needs. 

While these tips can provide temporary relief in many cases, they may not treat the underlying cause of your dry eye syndrome. If you’re experiencing persistent or severe dry eye symptoms, it’s best to consult with an eye care professional for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan. 

Dry eye diagnosis and treatment in Portland 

If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms, our team of experts at Giles Eye Care in Portland is here to provide you with the help you need. By scheduling a comprehensive eye exam, our professionals can assess your condition, identify the underlying causes, and develop a personalized treatment plan to bring you lasting relief. 

During your appointment, our eye doctor will thoroughly evaluate your eye health, including assessing tear production, examining the surface of your eyes, and determining any contributing factors to your dry eye symptoms. 

Don’t let dry eye impact your daily life any longer. Take the first step toward finding relief by scheduling an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam at Giles Eye Care in Portland today.