Dry Eyes Specialist

Scarbrough Family Eyecare

Optometry located in Traverse City, MI & Beulah, MI

Dry eyes may be unpleasant, but in most cases, an optometrist can easily figure out what’s causing them and provide effective treatment. At Scarbrough Family Eyecare in Beulah and Traverse City, Michigan, board-certified optometrist Edward Scarbrough, OD, determines the reason for your dry eye and helps you manage your symptoms through lifestyle changes and medication. To schedule an appointment, call or book online today.

Dry Eyes Q & A

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome results when your eyes don’t receive enough moisture. Your tears are made up of oils, water, mucus, and proteins, and they’re necessary to lubricate your eyes and protect them from irritants. Dry eye syndrome often results when you’re not producing enough tears, but it may also mean your tears are missing some of the necessary chemicals.

In addition to a feeling of dryness, dry eye syndrome causes symptoms that include:

  • Stinging, burning, or scratchiness
  • A feeling of something stuck in your eye
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Heavy, fatigued eyes
  • Red or bloodshot eyes
  • Watery eyes that are still irritated

Dry eye syndrome can have consequences beyond these unpleasant symptoms if left untreated. Over time, without the protective function of tears, your eyes become more vulnerable to infection and damage.

What causes dry eye syndrome?

There’s usually a clear cause for dry eye syndrome. You may produce low-quality or insufficient tears because of:

Contact lenses

If your contact lenses make your eyes feel dry, scratchy, or irritated, you may need to change your lenses or lens care products.

Screen use

If you spend hours a day looking at a computer, smartphone, or tablet, you blink less, and your tears evaporate faster.

Aging

A decline in tear production, beginning around age 50, is a normal part of aging, though this affects some people more than others.

Environmental factors

Your eyes may dry out if you spend a lot of time in smoky, air-conditioned, or windy settings. If you ride a bicycle or travel via airplane frequently, these may also cause your eyes to dry out.

Health conditions

Dry eyes are a symptom of certain chronic illnesses, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid conditions, and lupus.

Medication

Dry eyes are a side effect of many prescription and over-the-counter medications. These include some antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control pills, blood pressure medications, and decongestants.

To treat dry eye syndrome effectively, it’s usually necessary to identify and target the underlying cause.

How is dry eye syndrome treated?

Mild cases of dry eye syndrome usually respond to over-the-counter lubricating eye drops. If your eyes are moderately or severely dry, your Scarbrough Family Eyecare provider may recommend drugs to reduce eye inflammation or stimulate tear production.

It’s also important to figure out what’s causing your symptoms. It might be necessary to take different medications that are less likely to cause dry eyes as a side effect. If you wear contacts, there are lenses specially designed for people with dry eyes that you can purchase at Scarbrough Family Eyecare’s on-site optical shop.

You may simply need to make changes to your habits, including:

  • Using a humidifier at home
  • Taking breaks when you use the computer
  • Remembering to blink when you’re focused on something
  • Staying hydrated
  • Quitting smoking
  • Wearing sunglasses when you’re outside
  • Getting omega-3s in your diet through food or supplements

To get help for dry eyes, schedule an appointment at Scarbrough Family Eyecare online or over the phone.