Dry eyes is one of the most common reasons that people go to get their eyes checked. Our eyes are protected by an automatic layer of tears. In fact, our brain constantly monitors the quantity and quality of our tears. This tells us if something wrong gets into our eyes.
So what are the symptoms of dry eyes?
- Blurred eyesight - A smooth, even layer of tears gives crisp eyesight. Our normal tears do most of the work in helping us to see. Dry eyes can make things appear filmy, blurry, smeary or smudgy. Like windscreen wipers in a car, this makes us blink more frequently in order to see. If you notice your eyesight gets better when you blink, you may have dry eyes.
- Dry eyes - Ever feel like you need more moisture in your eyes? Dry eyes can make you feel like you want to put something in your eyes to lubricate them.
- Itchy eyes - Dry eyes can also cause itchiness. You may feel like you want to rub your eyes (especially near the edges of the eyelashes). Allergies or hayfever can also interrupt your normal tears. Antihistamines can also reduce the amount of tears that cover your eyes. Got hayfever? Book an appointment to see your Optometrist or Ophthalmologist and get a treatment plan.
- Gritty eyes - Ever feel like there’s something in your eye, but you can’t find anything in there? Gritty eyes can make it feel like there is a grain of sand or a loose eyelash floating around.
- Stinging eyes - Causing a sensation similar to that you get from cutting an onion, stinging eyes can make your eyes want to blink and become watery.
- Burning eyes - Dry eyes can also cause burning or the feeling that there’s heat coming from your eyes.
- Watery eyes - Believe it or not, having watery eyes can be a sign of dry eyes. When the normal tears evaporate, the body tries to compensate. It may do this by making more watery tears (or mucousy/sticky tears). These tears aren’t good quality. With an increase of mucousy tears you have to blow your nose more often and your eyesight may become filmy.
Book an eye examination with an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist who is passionate about dry eyes.
When are dry eyes usually more noticeable?
Dry eyes are often intermittent but certain times or environments can make them more noticeable or frequent.
- Upon waking - Sometimes our eyes don’t fully shut when we sleep and this exposes the tears to airflow and dry eye symptoms. To reduce airflow, try to turn off or redirect fans or air-conditioners. Silicone masks can also be worn at night. This can be especially useful for people with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy.
- Before bed - During a typical day, we blink up to 1,200 times per hour and a whopping 28,800 times in a day. This is a lot of work for our eyes and eyelids. Add to this the amount of time we spend staring at a computer, smartphone or other device, and it’s no wonder our eyes are drier towards the end of the day. If you notice a difference in your eyes on the weekend compared to a workday, try to break up your workday. Fill up your drink bottle and stay hydrated throughout the day. Plan on stretch breaks. Practice mindfulness. They can be short activities, but they'll help your eyes and brain to remain productive.
- Outdoors - Love fresh air? The outdoors can be a great way to recharge but our eyes can be exposed to wind, dust, smoke, pollen, fumes and other airborne pollutants. If you notice dry/watery eyes when outdoors, try to protect your eyes with wrap-around sunglasses. This reduces airflow hitting your eyes. It also slows evaporation around your eyes. Look for sunglasses with close fitting frames. Minimise air-gaps for best protection. Your Optometrist can also suggest the right prescription sunglasses to suit your needs.
Do you have symptoms of dry eyes? Make a note of your symptoms and activities. It’s easy to book and appointment with an optometrist near you via MyHealth1st. You’ll get relief and a plan for improvement.