Living and working in a region that sees little precipitation or humidity, Dr. Vivienne Velasco is used to diagnosing the symptoms of dry eye.
“The dry air that we experience in Southern Nevada, during most months of the year, is a significant cause of dry eye symptoms,” explains the Las Vegas-based optometrist and owner of iFocus Vision Center. “I often have patients who come in complaining of a stinging sensation or a feeling that there is something stuck in their eyes.”
Those two symptoms are common for dry eye sufferers, who, despite having no other vision troubles, share a common difficulty producing enough tears to lubricate their eyeballs. When left untreated, dry eye can damage tissue and possibly scar your cornea. Additionally, contact lens wearers may find their lenses uncomfortable because their eyes aren’t producing enough tears.
While the condition cannot be cured, the symptoms can be treated, Dr. Velasco says. It’s important, however, to understand why your eyes become dry, as well as your symptoms, before deciding on the proper treatment.
What Causes Dry Eye?
As mentioned above, the environment can be a contributing factor to dry eye symptoms. In an arid climate such as Las Vegas, ensuring that you are replacing your dirty air filters every few months can help relieve your symptoms while indoors.
The condition is also part of the normal aging process, and dry eye can occur during menopause in women or in people with arthritis. Other contributing factors include medications, such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives, or anti-depressants.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
In addition to a stinging sensation, dry eye can cause redness in your eyes, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and it can also cause mucus to form in or around your eyes. Dr. Velasco encourages patients to keep a record of their symptoms, as well as any medications they might be using. She’ll also ask about work and home environments that could be contributing to your symptoms.
How Can I Treat Dry Eye?
There are a number of treatments, including simple things you can do at home, to relieve your symptoms.
- Apply a warm, wet compress to your (closed) eyes for five minutes. The soothing compress will bring temporary relief until you find a steady solution.
- In some cases, punctal plugs may be used to treat dry eye. Punctal plugs are small plugs that are inserted into the corner of the eyelids to slow drainage and loss of tears.
- For consistent relief, Dr. Velasco recommends preservative-free lubricant eye drops. These artificial tears can replace the moisture that’s lost as a result of dry eye. iFocus Vision Center offers patients the Oasis TEARS® line of products, which include eye drops, cleansing pads, and eye masks.
“Oasis Tears work much better than over-the-counter drops and are great for contact lens wearers,” Dr. Velasco says. “I also recommend the Oasis Tears Lid Scrubs with Tea Tree oil. It’s great for killing bacteria and the tea tree oil kills demodex, which can cause rosacea and dry eye.”
Need to discuss dry eye solutions with Dr. Velasco? Call 702-473-5660 or book an appointment online at the iFocus Vision Center website.