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Do you have red eyes?

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Dry eyes can have a variety of symptoms such as watering, gritty, excessive blinking, redness, itchiness. If you are suffering from dry eyes you know how uncomfortable it can be! The best way to manage your dry eyes is to see an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam to determine what the best treatment strategy is for you. Dry eyes is a chronic condition that needs to be managed long term. Dry eye treatment is like fertilizer on a lawn, if you stop your treatment, the lawn will continue to grow but it may have some dead, dry areas that aren’t getting the nutrients it needs.

Dry eyes can develop for many reasons, including:

  • Age. Dry eyes are a part of the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.
  • Gender. Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and menopause.
  • Medications. Certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce tear production.
  • Medical conditions. People with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.
  • Environmental conditions. Exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.
  • Other factors. Long-term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Corrective eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.

Here are some things you can do today to take care of your eyes and decrease the risk of developing dry eyes.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids. Found in salmon, flax seeds, hemp seeds, or supplements.
  • Hot compress. An eye mask is a great tool to keep using on a weekly basis! Heat the eye mask in the microwave for 20 seconds and let it rest on your eyes for 10 minutes. This heats up the oil in your eyelids to be expressed each time you blink. It’s like heating up butter to turn into an oil consistency.
  • Drink water. Stay hydrated and avoid caffeine.
  • Artificial tears. Be careful what type of eye drops you use. A preservative-free option is the best way to go, all good stuff, no bad stuff. Ex: iDrop, Hylo, Thealoz, Hyabak.

Written by Mindy Blumberg

Dr. Mindy Blumberg is an optometrist registered with the BC College of Optometrists and is a member of the BC Doctors of Optometry. She graduated from the University of Waterloo and moved to Whistler, BC, to live in the mountains. Mindy grew up alpine ski racing and now has a special interest in sports vision. She helps with performance vision training with the Canadian Ski Cross and the BC Alpine Ski Team. Dr. Blumberg brings expertise on post-concussion vision rehabilitation and performance sports vision. She also uses these functional vision skills and vision therapy to improve reading and comprehension in children by enhancing the visual systems needed to have academic success.
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