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Possible Causes for the Recent Surge in Dry Eye Cases

Dry eye disease is quite common in older patients, but the number of young sufferers is clearly on the rise

According to the American Optometric Association, “Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye.” This one sentence sums up dry eye in a nutshell, but finding adequate treatments can be much more difficult.

Symptoms of dry eye disease include:

  • Burning or stinging of the eyes
  • Redness of the eyes or eyelids
  • Itching
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye fatigue
  • Contact lens irritation

Here in the world of health and eye care, we’re currently experiencing a dry eye surge. The condition has always been quite common in older patients, but the number of young sufferers is clearly on the rise.

Dry Eye Surge:

In my opinion, this surge has been bolstered by three main factors. The first and most obvious one is “increased time spent on computers and handheld devices.” Due to this modern development, our eyes are now faced with a whole new set of challenges.

Without question, today’s technological climate is much different than it’s been in the past. Since our eyes may not be able to keep up, we should expect to see even more changes on both the hardware (contact lenses & glasses) and software (programs like F.lux & Night Shift) sides.

The second factor is what I call “eye doctor expectations.” Without question, more is being expected from today’s eye doctor. In my opinion, this gives eye care professionals more confidence to spot and treat diseases. Due to this reason alone, fewer dry eye cases are slipping through the cracks. On top of that, technological advancements are helping to increase success rates.

The third factor is “increased public awareness,” which may be the result of recent marketing campaigns from Allergan and Shire (and others). If nothing else, these campaigns could be leading to a more educated patient base, which could lead to better teamwork between patient and doctor.

The Rundown:

Keep in mind, there are several other factors that can cause (or worsen) dry eye. And these factors can be very difficult to avoid completely, which is why having the right medication is very important.

Signs of dry eye disease include:

  • Decreased tear production
  • Decreased tear break up time
  • Corneal staining

Basic treatments for dry eye disease include:

  • Increasing water intake
  • Increasing Omega-3 intake from foods or supplements
  • Decreasing intake of processed foods & sugar
  • Improving serum levels of vitamin D
  • Using over-the-counter preservative-free artificial tears & gels
  • Taking frequent breaks from near work (computers or handheld devices)
  • Adding a home and/or office humidifier

Live in Your OcularPrime:

If you’ve completed many of the basic treatments and you’re still experiencing signs and symptoms of dry eye, then it may be time to consider prescription eye drops.