Have too many opinions about dry eyes left you frustrated and clueless? Here are some myths about Dry Eyes - Busted!





You’ve heard a lot of people complain of dry eyes, but what exactly are dry eyes? There are a number of myths surrounding dry eyes, both about their causes as well as treatments. First, let us get a handle on what Dry Eye Disease really is. 

Affecting almost half of all Americans over the age of 18, dry eyes disease or dry eye syndrome is a common condition where the tear ducts cannot produce enough tears or don't produce them as fast as they evaporate. This lack of lubrication leads to eyes drying out, becoming sensitive, irritable, and red. Another common symptom is the sensation of having a foreign object in your eyes when there is nothing there. Sometimes dry eyes can even become swollen. Sounds bad? Dry eyes can be a real health issue. With that in mind, let's set things straight on the Facts vs. Myths.

Myth 1: "Dry eyes are harmless..."
This commonly spoken phrase couldn't be more wrong. While temporary dryness isn't always dangerous, chronic dryness that is experienced by a large number of people can be extremely harmful. Tears are the eyes’ natural lubricant. They're responsible for maintaining a clean saline environment. When eyes get too dry, foreign particles and allergens can stick to the surface of the eyes, causing irritation, pain and even inflammation. This makes the eyes highly susceptible to irritation, damage, infections, and even corneal scarring1.

Myth 2: "Dry air is the cause..."
While environment can have an effect on the lubrication of your eyes and even dry them out, it doesn't account for the chronic dryness most people experience. When dryness of the eyes isexperienced often, it's a very likely symptom of dry eye disease. This means that adequate tears aren't being produced, or production is not as fast as evaporation.

Myth 3: "Watery eyes can't be dry..."
This one sounds pretty logical, but it is actually a very common misconception. Watery eyes is also an advanced symptom of the dry eye syndrome. Consider this as some sort of a hyper reaction - your dry eyes send a distress signal to the brain seeking to relieve the irritation, and this results in rapid tear secretion. Excess tears are produced as a response to this irritation to wash away the irritants caused by chronic dryness. This sounds like a fix but it's not. Compare over-lubrication of filling in too much of oil in to your engine – you know the result! Alternatively, tears are produced in excess but with reduced water concentration.

Myth 4: "Eyedrops can fix my problem..."
While eyedrops can't really be a permanent fix for dry eyes, they can go a long way in alleviating the pain and irritation caused by dry eyes. The problem most people run into is what kind of eyedrops need to be used. Dry eyes disease causes itchy, red, and irritated eyes so naturally you would assume that eyedrops for red, irritated eyes are the way to go. This is a big mistake. The medication that gets rid of redness in your eyes actually slows down tear production. For a person with chronic dryness, the only eyedrops that should be used are lubricating or tear replacement eye drops such as Blink Tears Lubricating Eye Drops. Ask your doctor for a prescription that is right for you.

Remember to do a thorough fact check before you go on to believe what you read about dry eyes. Your eyes are after all among the most vital organs and you should take every measure to ensure their safety and health.

 

References:
1Henderson et al.,2013, Dry-eye management, Optometry in Practice,14: 137 – 146

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