Are Dry Eyes Serious?

Dry eye is a relatively common condition where tear production doesn’t sufficiently keep the eye lubricated. The cause can vary, though it usually falls into one of two categories. First, the eye may not produce enough tears. Second, the tear composition may not provide enough lubrication, even if the quantity is high.  

For those that have dry eyes, finding relief is typically a priority. However, it’s also common to wonder whether dry eye is a serious condition. If you’re wondering whether you should be concerned about your dry eyes, what treatment options are available, and whether you should see your eye care provider, here’s what you need to know.  

Are Dry Eyes Serious?  

Dry eyes can be a serious condition for several reasons. First, the discomfort they cause can be disruptive to daily life. Itching, burning, and stinging eyes are distracting at a minimum. Second, they can harm visual acuity, as focusing may become challenging.  

Finally, dry eyes can increase a person’s odds of developing certain medical conditions. Your risk of an eye infection generally increases. In some cases, abnormal blood vessel development can happen. Scarring and corneal thinning are also possible side effects. In any of these scenarios, permanent vision changes may occur, especially if the dry eyes are left untreated.  

Home Treatments for Dry Eyes  

If you have mild to moderate dry eye, some home treatments may be viable. Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops are the most common option, as they’re readily available and reasonably affordable.  

Other steps may also help. For example, limiting screen time can help. People tend to blink less when viewing screens, which can make dry eyes worse. Having a humidifier may also help, particularly if you live in a dry climate or during the winter when heaters are in use. This increases the amount of moisture in the air, which can slow tear evaporation.  

Wearing wraparound sunglasses when outdoors can make a difference, too. That helps keep irritants out of the eye and shields your eyes from the wind. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids could also potentially provide some relief.  

Ophthalmic Treatments for Dry Eyes  

If you have moderate to severe dry eye, certain ophthalmic treatments may be more effective than home remedies. There are several prescription eye drops that can treat potential causes of dry eyes. These can include anti-inflammatories, steroids, immunosuppressants, and more.  

Certain other medications might work in specific scenarios. For example, there are oral tear-stimulating drugs that can increase tear production. You may also be a strong candidate for eye inserts that work similarly to artificial tears.  

Punctal plugs that intentionally block tear-draining ducts to keep tears in your eyes longer may be a viable treatment option. Medical procedures that unblock clogs tear glands might be worth considering as well.   

When to See Your Eye Care Provider  

Generally, if your dry eye symptoms are disruptive and don’t improve after using home remedies, it’s best to see your eye care provider. They can examine your eyes to determine the potential cause, allowing them to develop an effective treatment plan based on your specific needs.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Questions to Ask When Considering Lasik

For many people who’ve spent time wearing contact lenses or glasses, Lasik may seem like an attractive alternative. Depending on various factors, Lasik could restore your vision or, at a minimum, reduce the need for corrective lenses.  

However, not everyone is an ideal candidate for Lasik. Additionally, the results can vary. If you’re considering Lasik, here are some critical questions to ask your ophthalmologist to determine if you’re a good candidate and estimate your results.  

Does My Refractive Error Fall Within the Approved Range?  

Lasik is only approved to treat specific refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Additionally, the degree of the error has to fall within a particular range, both individual and, in cases where multiple conditions are present, when taken together. This question allows you to learn if Lasik is a viable option.  

Has My Vision Been Relatively Stable Over the Past Few Years?  

Fluctuating visual acuity can mean that Lasik isn’t an ideal choice. Ideally, it’s best to have some stability before considering this option, increasing the odds that your results will last long enough to justify the procedure. Generally, your ophthalmologist can review your history with corrective lenses to gauge how much your vision has changed, allowing them to answer this question easily.  

Is This the Right Time for Lasik, Based on My Age or Life-Stage?  

Vision changes are more common during certain life stages. Often, visual acuity fluctuates through childhood and into young adulthood, as well as after reaching the age of 40 or 45. Certain other medical events, including pregnancy and menopause, and specific conditions can also alter visual acuity. This question helps you determine if Lasik is a good option today or if waiting may be best.  

Does My Lifestyle Make Lasik a Good Choice?  

How you live your life may impact whether Lasik is right for you. This can include aspects of your work and family life, as well as any sports, hobbies, or other types of recreation you engage in regularly. This question ensures your lifestyle is factored into the equation.  

What Alternatives Are Available, Aside from Contacts or Glasses?  

While Lasik is a popular option for vision correction, there are alternatives that may better suit your needs. By asking about what’s available, your ophthalmologist can review them with you, ensuring you can move forward with the best option for your situation if an alternative is appropriate.  

If There’s an Undesirable Side Effect, What May Occur, and Will Any Harm Be Lasting?  

Like any other medical procedure, Lasik can come with side effects. With this question, you can learn about potential outcomes, as well as available treatments should they occur, and how they will impact your vision in the short- and long-term.  

Ultimately, asking the right questions ensures you’re properly informed. Additionally, it can give you insights into how the ophthalmologist views you as a candidate, ensuring you fully understand their recommendations.  

At ECVA, the safety and health of our patient’s eyes are our priority. If you are considering Lasik or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.