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Dealing With Dry Eyes

Winter's dry air and wind can play havoc with the almost 20 percent of people who have dry eyes.

Dr. Kenneth Goins, an associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Iowa, explains the causes of dry eyes and ways to manage the condition.

"Many different factors can affect the tear film quality and amount, which leads to secondary changes in the eye and loss of vision," Goins says.

The amount of lubricating tears produced by the eyes may vary, depending on whether the eyes are at rest or under stress, such as when you're reading. Pain, redness, decreased vision and the sensation of foreign objects in the eyes are among the complaints cited by people with severe dry eyes.

Dry eyes can be caused by wind and sunlight; dirt and grit; an age-related decrease in tear production; eyelid abnormalities that affect the blink mechanism; and naturally and artificially dry environments, Goins says.

Medication side effects and diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can also cause dry eyes.

The approach you take to managing dry eyes depends on the cause, Goins says. He recommends that people with dry eyes wear sunglasses to protect against wind and excess light. Artificial tears (also known as tear substitutes) can be used during the day and a lubricating ointment can be used at bedtime.

There's a difference between artificial tears that provide moisture and eye drops that only remove redness from the eyes, Goins says.

Humidifiers can also help reduce dry indoor air during the winter.

People with significantly dry eyes or those who have pain or foreign object sensations in their eyes should see an ophthalmologist, Goins says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about dry eyes.

Reference Source 101



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