What Is Your Eye Health IQ?

Many people have grown up knowing certain vision “facts.” They may have heard them from their parents as a child, passing the tidbit of vision along to their children as their parents did with them.  

However, some of this vision “wisdom” may or may not be true. If you are wondering what your eye health IQ is, here’s a look at some common beliefs and whether they are founded.  

Eating Carrots Boosts Your Eyesight  

This is a popular belief that is somewhat true. While eating any food won’t bring your vision back to 20/20 after it’s degraded, carrots contain vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant important for eye health.  

Reading in Low Light Damages Your Eyes  

This one is false. While reading in dim light might cause you to strain, leading to a headache, it doesn’t damage your eyes. However, it does become harder to do as a person ages due to natural changes that occur in a person’s vision over time.  

Screen Time Harms Your Vision  

Yes and no. While being in front of a screen doesn’t damage your eyes, it can cause some issues. Headaches, dry eyes, and blurred vision can occur, usually due to eye fatigue. People tend to blink less when they are concentrating on a screen, causing eyes to get irritated and tired. However, the screen itself isn’t causing permanent damage.  

UV Rays Can Sunburn Your Eyes  

This one is true. UV rays can burn your eyes just as they can burn your skin, causing your eyes to be red and itchy. Additionally, long-term UV exposure can lead to other kinds of eye damage, including to the retina. It may even promote the development of cataracts.  

Smoking is Bad for Your Eyes  

Here’s another true one. Smoking (including secondhand smoke) can be harmful to your vision. It may lead to the earlier development of cataracts and may increase your risk of macular degeneration and optic nerve damage, all of which can potentially lead to blindness.  

Squinting Damages Your Vision  

This one is false. While it may lead to headaches and crow’s feet wrinkles, squinting doesn’t harm your vision. It can actually help you focus. However, if you’re always squinting, it could signal a vision issue, like the need for new glasses or the presence of inflammation that’s making your eyes sensitive to light.  

The Eye Are the Window to the Soul  

While you can’t see a person’s soul through their eyes, you can find out a lot about their overall health. Certain eye symptoms could indicate the presence of other conditions. For example, dry eyes may suggest an autoimmune disorder, while blurry vision might occur in individuals with diabetes.  

Hopefully, you scored high on your eye health IQ test. If you haven’t tested your eyes’ health recently, take this opportunity to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. The ECVA team works diligently to care for our patients’ health and would be happy to check your eyes to ensure they are in the best shape possible. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

What Is This Bump on My Eye!

Finding a bump near your eye is always startling. You may be wondering if it is dangerous or what you should do to handle it.  

How you should proceed depends on the kind of bump you find. If the lump is small and red – with or without a white head – and located on your eyelid, there’s a good chance it’s a stye. Here’s what you need to know about styes, including what they are, what causes them, and how you can prevent or treat them.  

What Is a Stye?  

Styes are usually small bumps that form on the inside or outside of your eyelid. They are typically a bit red and may present with a white head in some cases. At times, a stye may be sore, usually a side effect of inflammatory processes. However, it also may feel fine.  

Generally, styes appear on only one eyelid at any given time. However, it is possible to have multiple styes at once, including some on each eyelid.  

What Causes Styes?  

Styes aren’t unlike pimples. They occur when glands located on your eyelids get clogged and inflamed. When the gland clogs, it swells and can fill with fluid (pus). This causes it to get larger as time passes, at least until it opens up and drains.  

How to Prevent Styes  

Good hygiene practices can help you prevent styes. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water before you touch your eye area. Additionally, clean your face with a mild cleanser regularly.  

If you wear makeup, remove it every night. You should also replace your eye makeup every six months, or after you have had a stye. Also, avoid sharing towels with anyone who has a stye, as the bacteria can transfer over to you, increasing your odds of getting one.  

How to Treat Styes  

In most cases, a stye will go away on its own within a few days. However, you can try to speed the process along a bit. First, don’t squeeze or “pop” a stye. That can lead to more inflammation and swelling, and potentially push an infection deeper into your eyelid.  

Instead, wash your hands with soap and water, and then soak a clean washcloth in warm (not hot) water. Place that over the stye to help encourage the gland to open. You can also gently massage the stye with clean fingers to try and open it up. Make sure to clean your face and eye area regularly. If you need a gentle cleanser, try baby shampoo.  

If you’re experiencing any discomfort, consider ibuprofen. It reduces inflammation and can reduce pain. Additionally, if you usually wear contact lenses, switch over to glasses until your stye heals. Also, make sure to thoroughly clean your contacts before you use them again, or switch to a new pair once you’ve recovered.  

Your Eye Health is our Priority 

Should you become concerned about a stye or aren’t sure that the bump is one, it’s best to see an eye doctor. They can identify the lump and recommend a course of treatment, if necessary.  

Our experienced team works diligently to keep our patients’ eyes healthy, including identifying causes of bumps that may occur. If you would like to make sure your eyes are healthy, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Understanding Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition that can rob a person of their sight. It is the second-leading cause of blindness in the world, and about 3 million Americans suffer from it.  

While African Americans are most at risk of developing glaucoma, with about six percent having it by age 69, anyone could have it. The occurrence rate increases dramatically with age, ultimately impacting every demographic.  

If you would like to learn more about glaucoma, here’s what you need to know.  

What Is Glaucoma?  

There are several kinds of glaucoma. The most common version is open-angle glaucoma, where fluid doesn’t pass properly through various portions of the eye. This leads to a pressure increase, which, over time, damages the optic nerve.  

With open-angle glaucoma, the process can be slow, but there are no early warning signs. About 50 percent of those with the condition don’t realize they have it until they begin to lose their vision. However, it is possible to catch it early with regular screenings and proper eye care.  

With closed-angle glaucoma, the situation develops more quickly. The iris shifts, blocking the drain angle and leading to rapid fluid buildup. Vision gets blurry suddenly, and severe eye pain, headaches, nausea, and vomiting can all occur. Additionally, halos or rainbow-colored rings may be visible around light sources.  

Closed-angle glaucoma requires immediate treatment. Otherwise, blindness can occur quickly.  

What Are Risk Factors for Glaucoma?  

Generally, those with the highest risk of developing glaucoma are African Americans over 40 years of age, anyone who is over 60 years of age, anyone with a family history of glaucoma, and individuals with diabetes. Overall, African Americans are up to eight times more likely to develop glaucoma, while people with diabetes are twice as likely as those without diabetes.  

Anyone suffering from heart disease or high blood pressure may also be at increased risk. Similarly, certain eye conditions, like retinal detachments or tumors, may lead to glaucoma. Severe trauma can cause alter eye structures, potentially causing glaucoma to develop, as well.  

Certain medications may also increase the chance of getting glaucoma. For example, prolonged corticosteroid use can cause someone to get secondary glaucoma as a side effect.  

Getting Screened for Glaucoma  

Open-angle glaucoma is a progressive condition. By getting your eyes checked regularly by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, they can look for signs of the disease before significant damage occurs.  

Along with gathering a patient history, they can perform visual acuity tests, use tonometry and pachymetry to measure eye pressure and corneal thickness, respectively, and conduct scans or the optic nerve to look for damage. If they determine you have glaucoma, they can take action to preserve your vision, including prescribing medications or performing surgery, depending on how your condition presents.  

While there is no cure for glaucoma, it can be managed. By catching it early, your chances of retaining your visual acuity go up dramatically. If you haven’t been screened for glaucoma recently or are experiencing any changes in visual acuity, it’s best to see your eye doctor as soon as possible.  

We’re Helping You See More Clearly 

Our team works diligently to care for our patients’ eyes, including screening for and treating glaucoma. If you want to ensure your eyes are as healthy as possible, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic. 

UV Protection and Your Eyes

Most people know that ultraviolet (UV) light can be damaging thanks to its connection to sunburns and skin cancer. However, many people don’t realize that the risk can extend to their eyes as well. When UV rays harm the eyes, the result can be catastrophic. That makes protecting your eyes especially important, not just during the summer, but all year-round.  

If you are wondering why you need to take steps to reduce UV exposure to your eyes and what you can do, here’s what you need to know.  

What Is UV Light  

UV refers to a specific portion of the light spectrum, a part that isn’t detectable by the human eye. The rays that fall in that category can be divided into three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC.  

All forms of UV light (which may also be referred to as UV radiation) can be potentially harmful. UVA can make it way beyond the cornea, coming into contact with the lens and retina. This allows it to potentially damage a variety of cells, particularly when overexposure is an issue.  

The cornea more commonly absorbs UVB. That means nearly 100 percent of its energy – and the potential harm it can cause – is focused on that part of the eye.  

When it comes to the most damaging kind of UV light, UVC would usually qualify. However, the vast majority is blocked by the ozone layer in the atmosphere, automatically limiting a person’s exposure.  

Eye Conditions Connected to UV Exposure  

It’s important to note that UV light can cause temporary and long-term damage. However, the more exposure there is, the higher the chance a condition will develop.  

Just like your skin, your eyes can become sunburned. This is a short-term condition, but the damage can be serious, especially if the burn is severe.  

Your risk of cancer also rises. Melanoma can develop around the eye area, including on the lids and your conjunctiva. You can actually develop melanoma inside your eye, usually in the uvea, which is the layer between your sclera and your retina. Typically, you won’t see signs of cancer developing in a mirror, which increases the odds that it will advance before its detected.  

There are a variety of other conditions that can be caused by UV light. Photokeratitis, pinguecula, and pterygium are all connected to UVB exposure. UVA has been linked to certain cataract formations. Additionally, some evidence suggests overexposure increases a person’s risk for macular degeneration.  

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Eyes  

Previously, we’ve discussed how sunglasses can be great protection against UV light. Some options can block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB light, making them the best options, especially in wrap-around designs.  

However, they aren’t the only choice. You can get coatings on eyeglasses that block up to 100 percent of UV, for example. Many contact lenses provide some protection against UV light, with class 1 lenses blocking 96 percent and 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, respectively.  

Maintaining your eye doctor appointments is also critical. That way, they can check your eyes for UV-related conditions, including ocular melanoma.  

Helping You See More Clearly 

If you want to make sure your eyes are healthy, schedule an appointment at your nearest ECVA clinic today. Our experienced team works diligently to maintain our patients’ health, including identifying problems that may be caused by overexposure to UV light. Our optical shop can help you choose UV-blocking eyeglasses or sunglasses, ensuring your eyes always have the protection they need.  

When Are Eye Floaters Serious?

Eye floaters – those little spots, lines, or shapes that flow across your vision – aren’t usually a big deal. There’s a decent chance everyone will notice some on occasion and, while they can be incredibly annoying, they typically don’t signal a major problem.  

However, there are times when eye floaters are a symptom of a serious condition, including some that could lead to substantial, permanent vision loss or other health complications. Figuring out whether you should be concerned isn’t always easy. If you’re trying to determine whether you need to see your eye doctor about floaters, here’s what you need to know.  

What Can Cause Floaters?  

There are a few potential causes of vision issues that a person may describe as floaters. Sometimes, debris drifting across the surface of the eye can have the appearance of a floater. This can occur directly on the eye as well as on contact lenses for those who wear them.  

However, most commonly, floaters occur when the vitreous of the eye shrinks. The gel-like substance makes up about 80 percent of your eye, giving it a rounded shape. As a person ages, the vitreous shrinks and changes texture. As it becomes stringy, the strands might start to cast shadows that hit your retina, creating a floater’s appearance.  

Over time, those floaters usually “settle,” causing them to no longer impede your vision. However, there can be other causes of floaters, including some that are potentially serious.  

Serious Conditions That Cause Eye Floaters  

Several eye conditions can lead to floaters aside from normal aging. First, infections and inflammation (uveitis) can both cause floaters. For example, pink eye (conjunctivitis) can lead to floaters. While it may seem like a common bacterial or viral infection, that doesn’t mean it can’t be serious. Without proper treatment, infections and inflammation can be harmful to your eyes, causing lasting damage.  

Hemorrhaging (bleeding) in the eye may also lead to the appearance of floaters. While many eye bleeds are caused by small broken blood vessels, which can be harmless, it can also be very serious. For instance, hyphema, a form of bleeding in the eye, requires prompt treatment to ensure that pressure doesn’t build to dangerous levels.  

At times, floaters may be a sign of retinal detachment. If the number of floaters increases quickly, that could indicate a retinal detachment in progress. If that occurs, or you see any of the other retinal detachment symptoms, you need to contact an eye doctor immediately. Left untreated, retinal detachments can cause significant permanent damage. With timely treatment, the damage may be reversible or, at least, minimized.   

Ultimately, floaters can be the sign of something dangerous, which is why it’s wise to speak with your eye doctor if you notice an increase in floaters or have any other concerning symptoms. Our experienced ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians work diligently to keep our patients’ eyes healthy, including identifying causes of floaters and treating when necessary. 

Have you had your eyes examined lately? 

 If you would like to make sure your eyes are as healthy as possible, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Cloudy Vision vs. Blurry Vision

Describing a vision issue is challenging for many patients. It’s hard to find the right words to express precisely what you’re experiencing. At times, this leads some patients to use the terms “cloudy” and “blurry” interchangeably. After all, they both denote a reduction in visual acuity, so it’s common to assume their meanings are similar.  

However, cloud vision and blurry vision are two very different situations. If you are wondering what they have in common and what sets them apart, here’s a close look at what cloudy vision and blurry vision involve.  

Cloudy Vision  

In the simplest terms, cloudy vision is when it seems like you are observing everything through a fog. It makes everything you look at seem like it is shrouded in a haze. At times, it could seem similar to looking at the world through dirty glasses lenses or a fogged car windshield.  

When you have cloudy vision, it may also feel like there’s a film on your eyes. It may seem like you could potentially blink or wipe away that film, restoring your vision, but that doesn’t always work.  

Cloudy vision can be caused by a variety of conditions, with cataracts being the most common. When you have cataracts, your eye’s lens loses transparency, creating cloudy vision. Other potential causes include:  

  • Corneal damage  
  • Diabetes  
  • Infection  
  • Macular degeneration  
  • Optic nerve disease  

Improper contact lens care can also lead to cloudy vision. If the lens isn’t thoroughly cleaned, residue may impact visual acuity, just as it can through smudged lenses on glasses.  

Blurry Vision  

In the most basic sense, blurry vision is when you look at an object and it doesn’t appear to be in focus. It isn’t unlike when you take a picture with a camera. Before you adjust the lens, the object you are trying to capture doesn’t seem crisp. Then, once you adjust the camera’s lens, it becomes clear.  

Usually, when your vision is blurry, certain actions may make the item seem clearer. Squinting may bring it into better focus, similar to how a camera lens adjustment can.  

Many conditions can cause blurry vision. Near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatism are the most common and are usually correctable with prescription lenses. Other factors can also lead to blurry vision, including:  

  • Cataracts  
  • Corneal abrasions, opacification, or scarring  
  • Infection  
  • Low blood sugar  
  • Macular degeneration  
  • Migraine  
  • Optic neuritis  
  • Retinopathy  
  • Stroke  

In some cases, blurry vision is temporary. However, it can also require intervention and could potentially be permanent, depending on the cause.  

If you are experiencing vision changes, including cloudy or blurry vision, it’s wise to see an eye doctor as soon as possible. That way, they can determine the cause of your issue, ensuring you are treated promptly and correctly. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today. Our team will listen to your concerns and identify the ideal course of action, ensuring your eyes can remain healthy, and your vision issues are addressed appropriately.  

Recognize the Signs of Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is a serious condition that should always be treated as an emergency. Without quick intervention, permanent vision loss is possible. In the worst-case scenario, when left untreated, it can even cause blindness in the affected eye.  

By recognizing the signs of retinal detachment, you can take immediate action if you experience the symptoms. Here’s a look at what the condition is, who is at risk, and the symptoms that can occur.  

What is Retinal Detachment?  

A retinal detachment is a condition where the retina – a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye – pulls out of its normal position. Retinal cells end up moving away from blood vessels, reducing or cutting off their access to nutrients and oxygen. As time passes, these cells get damaged and die off, resulting in potentially permanent vision loss.  

Who’s at Risk of Retinal Detachment?  

Technically, everyone is at risk of retinal detachment simply because they have a retina. However, certain segments of the population are more likely to develop the condition, including individuals with:  

  • Severe nearsightedness  
  • Previous eye injury  
  • Previous cataract surgery  
  • Diabetic retinopathy  
  • Lattice degeneration  
  • Posterior vitreous detachment  
  • A family history of retinal detachment  

What Are the Symptoms of Retinal Detachment?  

While a retinal detachment sounds like it would be painful, it isn’t. Usually, those affected don’t feel anything happening at all. As a result, identifying the warning signs of a retinal detachment in progress is critical.  

Some of the symptoms of retinal detachment include:  

  • Blurred vision  
  • Flashes of light  
  • Reduced peripheral vision  
  • Shadow or “curtain” over your field of vision  
  • Sudden, significant increase in the number of floaters (small specks that appear to float across your field of vision)  
  • Changes in visual perception, typically straight lines starting to appear curved  

What to Do If You Suspect a Retinal Detachment  

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with a retinal detachment, seek medical help immediately. A retinal detachment is an emergency, and any delay could increase your chances of severe and irreversible damage or blindness. The faster you act, the more likely the detachment can be halted or repaired, preserving or restoring your vision.  

Once you arrive at your ophthalmologist’s office, they will examine your eyes with special instruments to look for retinal detachment. If they find evidence one is occurring, they may recommend several treatments approaches, including:  

  • Thermal or Cryopexy Repair  
  • Pneumatic Retinopexy  
  • Scleral Buckle  
  • Vitrectomy  

It’s important to understand that retinal detachments won’t repair on their own. Action by a medical professional is required if you want to preserve or restore your vision. With quick action, retina procedures are predominately successful. However, it could take time for your vision to return, and, in severe retinal detachment cases, some of the damage may be permanent.  

If you believe you are experiencing retinal detachment, contact your ophthalmologist immediately. Additionally, make sure to attend your regular eye care appointments, ensuring your eye doctor can look for signs of retinal detachment or other conditions that may be going unnoticed. If you haven’t visited your eye care specialist recently, schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.  

Eye exam patient having their eyes checked out

How Blue Light Affects Our Eyes

Most people have heard that they should reduce their exposure to blue light. But it’s common to have questions, including why blue light could be harmful and how it affects the eye. If you’d like to find out more about blue light, here’s a look at what it is and how it could impact your eyes.  

The Light Spectrum  

Sunlight is a natural light source that appears white. However, it’s made up of a full-color spectrum, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet light. That’s what allows rainbows to happen. Water droplets in the air separate the colors visually, creating the rainbow look.  

Different colors of light have different wavelengths. Red rays have a longer wavelength, causing them to have less energy. In comparison, blue rays’ wavelengths are shorter and have more energy.  

Where Blue Light Comes From  

Blue light is produced by a range of sources. The sun is a natural source of blue light, for one. However, there are also numerous sources of artificial blue light, including:  

  • Smartphones  
  • Tablets  
  • Computer screens  
  • Televisions  
  • LED lightbulbs  
  • CFL lightbulbs  
  • Fluorescent lightbulbs  

Blue light isn’t inherently bad. In fact, it can provide some benefits, including boosting alertness and supporting the body’s natural wake cycle.  

While the sun is technically the largest source of blue light, there are concerns regarding artificial blue light exposure. Mainly, this is because people tend to be close to the sources and spend a substantial amount of time focused on them.  

How Blue Light Affects Our Eyes  

When blue light reaches your eyes, nearly all of it passes through the cornea and lens, allowing it to reach the retina. Practically none of it is blocked or reflected, causing it to be absorbed mostly. While our eyes are designed to deal with blue light, artificial sources mean we are taking in far more than we would from natural sources alone. And prolonged exposure could have negative impacts.  

One of the most common effects is digital eye strain. When you look at a screen, you tend to blink less, causing your eyes to fatigue and get dry. Additionally, exposure to artificial blue light may harm circadian rhythms, especially when it occurs late at night.  

Some studies suggest that blue light may actually harm the retina. It could be triggering chemical reactions in the eye that have a toxic effect on retina cells. When that occurs, visual acuity could be damaged over time. There may also be an increased risk of certain conditions, including age-related macular degeneration.  

Protecting Your Eyes from Blue Light  

While getting some exposure to blue light is a good thing, it’s wise to take precautions against prolonged exposure, especially from artificial sources. Begin by limiting your screen time when possible, and take breaks when you use devices to rest your eyes.  

Additionally, consider purchasing screen filters. These can decrease your exposure to blue light by stopping some of the blue light from passing through. Yellow-tinted computer glasses and anti-reflective lens coatings may also help block blue light.  

If you would like to learn more about the effects of blue light and what you can do to keep your eyes healthy, your eye doctor can help. Schedule an appointment at your nearest ECVA clinic today. Our skilled team will listen to your concerns and provide you with guidance, empowering you to make sure your eyes remain as comfortable and healthy.  

woman getting an eye exam

Your Safety is Our Priority

Starting on Monday, May 18, 2020, all ECVA locations will be re-opening. Our goal is to provide high-quality eye care services to each and every one of our patients during these unprecedented times.

Your safety is our priority. As a result, we will be taking extra precautions to ensure your health as well as the health of our staff. We are adhering to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations to preserve the well-being of everyone who comes into our clinics. Here is an overview of any changes you may experience when coming in for an eye care appointment.

Socially Distanced Waiting Areas

Each of the waiting rooms in our clinics has been reconfigured. The adjustments support social distancing standards, ensuring patients can remain appropriately separated during their visits.

Protective Shielding

Reducing the spread of germs is essential. Each ECVA clinic now has protective shielding installed in the reception areas, a step that can mitigate the spread of diseases.

Surgical Mask Requirements

When coming in for an office visit, all patients will have to wear surgical masks. This step can help reduce the spread of germs, keeping both patients and staff members safer.

PPE Use by Staff

When appropriate, staff members may choose to wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE). Along with surgical masks, this can include medical gloves, protective face shields, and protective eyewear.

Handwashing Practices

Handwashing can be an effective approach for combating the spread of germs. Our clinics now have new standards in place that promote more frequent handwashing, a step that enhances safety for patients and staff members alike.

Disinfecting

While disinfecting surfaces has always been a priority at ECVA, those efforts are currently enhanced. Along with all equipment used on patients, seating areas and work surfaces are be disinfected regularly throughout the day.

Visitor Limits

As a means of keeping patients and staff members protected, we are requesting that friends or family members who arrive at an appointment with a patient remain in their vehicles. If that is not possible, we ask that only those with an appointment head into the exam room to meet with their doctor.

Rescheduling

If you or a household member are experiencing symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19, or you have been recently exposed to anyone with symptoms, we ask that you reschedule your office appointment. The potential symptoms include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever

We would also like to reiterate that the situation is fluid, and new precautions may be implemented should the need arise. If you have questions regarding the new processes or about your upcoming appointment, or have an emergency eye care need, please contact the ECVA main office at (716) 631-8888. Our team will be happy to speak with you.

We also thank our patients for their patience during these unique times. We look forward to seeing you again starting on May 18.

Why Are My Eyes So Dry?

Even when you are in a great mood, your eyes are covered in tears. That helpful fluid keeps your eyes comfortable and healthy, providing water for moisture, oils for lubrication, and even antibodies that battle potential infections.

When your eyes are dry, it usually means that you don’t have enough tears to keep your eyes at their best. But why you’re struggling with dry eyes can vary. Anything from a health condition to lifestyle choices can be responsible. If you are wondering why your eyes are so dry, here’s what you need to know.

Dry Eye Symptoms

If you have dry eyes, you may experience a number of symptoms. It may feel like there’s grit or an eyelash in your eye. You may have some itching or stinging. Eye redness or fatigue can occur, and you may see some stringy mucus. In some cases, your vision may even get blurry, and you might become sensitive to light.

When the level of tears falls low enough, your eyes might start overproducing tears, leading to watery eyes. It’s a condition caused reflex tearing, where your nervous system tries to compensate for the lack of lubrication by over-moisturizing your eyes.

Causes of Dry Eye

While dry eyes are almost universally a signal that there aren’t enough tears to keep your eyes comfortable and healthy, the reason for the lack of tears can vary. Usually, tear production decreases naturally as a person ages, particularly for women who enter menopause.

Certain medications can be dehydrating and may lead to dry eye. Additionally, numerous health conditions can reduce tear production, including collagen vascular diseases, some autoimmune conditions, diabetes, and thyroid disorders.

A vitamin A deficiency may lead to dry eyes. Additionally, anyone who’s had tear gland damage may not produce enough tears, and people with eyelid problems may struggle to keep their eyes lubricated.

Lifestyle can also play a role. Wind and smoke can dry out the eyes. If you spend a lot of time driving, reading, on a computer, or using a smartphone, you may blink less, causing tears to evaporate more quickly or not be spread across the eye as often as needed.

Effective Dry Eye Treatments

Since there are numerous potential causes of dry eye, it’s always best to speak with a doctor. That way, they can determine if an underlying health condition may be responsible and that you receive proper treatment.

In most cases, dry eye symptoms can be relieved by using artificial tears (eye drops) or ointment. Many over the counter options can make your eyes more comfortable, though you may need to try a few to see which one works best for you. There are also prescription versions if your doctor thinks those are a better option.

If your case is severe, your doctor may recommend other treatments. For example, punctal occlusion – a process where the duct that allows tears to drain is plugged, either temporarily or permanently, to keep tears in your eye longer – may be appropriate in some situations. Lipiflow, where a device is used to unclog blocked eyelid tear glands, might also be recommended by a physician if a lack of oil is causing your dry eye.

At times, dietary changes, such as increasing the amount of omega-3 in your diet, may provide relief. Topical testosterone creams or steroid drops might also be on the table.

If you are struggling with dry eyes and you haven’t addressed it with a doctor, it’s time for a visit to your ophthalmologist or optometrist. Schedule an appointment at your nearest ECVA clinic today. Our skilled team will work diligently to determine the cause of your dry eyes and protect your health. We’ll create a customized treatment plan based on your unique needs, whatever they may be.