First Person: Causes and Management of Chronic Dry Eyes

Do you suffer from dry eyes? I have suffered from them for many years. I’ve sought professional treatment including having two sets of tear duct plugs inserted by my ophthalmologist. Both sets popped out because I didn’t produce enough tears for the plugs to prevent drainage. I used the prescription drops (Restasis) for two years which were ineffective, cucumbers on the eyes, and over the counter drops multiple times per day. To date none of these options have worked for me. I do know what caused my dry eyes and share these below. At the end, I will share what I do to get minor relief from the dryness on a daily basis. Mostly, dry eyes are something sufferers have to learn to live with and manage as best they can.

Did wearing contact lenses cause my chronic dry eyes?

I began wearing soft contact lenses in high school (late seventies) and did so until I had Lasik surgery in 1999. During that time my vision was negatively affected and wearing the soft lenses was very uncomfortable and caused dryness. I wanted the Lasik surgery for two reasons. One was to correct my distance vision so that I would no longer need glasses and two; I was hoping the dryness would vanish. Lasik surgery did not improve my dry eye condition at all, and in hindsight it increased the dryness.

Did hypothyroidism contribute to my chronic dry eye problem?

I had not considered that my thyroid problem diagnosed at least twenty years ago contributed to my dry eye condition. But as I’ve researched the topic, I have found it is true according to The Mayo Clinic. In fact, thyroid problems are not the only medical condition that can cause dry eyes. Others include vitamin A deficiency, lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.

Does my age (50) play a role in my having chronic dry eyes?

At present it does. Postmenopausal women often develop dry eyes due to a change in our hormones. Another strike against my dry eye problem, because I have been told I am postmenopausal.

Do my medications cause dry eyes?

Again, I have learned that taking certain antidepressants and birth control pills may cause dry eyes. I took both for many years. Visit the link in this article to see what other medications linked to dry eyes.

Does exposure to outside elements cause dry eyes?

Weather such as wind and air can also cause dry eyes, however luckily these are prevented easily enough by faithfully wearing sunglasses when outside to reduce exposure to these elements.

What I do to cope with chronic dry eyes:

  • 1. I always have sunglasses on when I am outside, day or night. This is a must for me to avoid any air or wind getting into my eyes. It is also good for protecting my eyes and the delicate skin around them from the aging and damaging rays of the sun.
  • 2. I use thick eye ointment every night. Right before bedtime, I apply about ΒΌ inch of ointment in each eye. The ointment provides a sheet of moisture over my eyes and it soothes my tired eyes over night. In the morning I don’t usually have a film left over the eyes because mine are so dry, they absorb all of the ointment during the night. In the rare instances that a little of the ointment remains, I insert over the counter drops for dry eyes to wash away the residue. There are many brands of ointment on the market such as Systane, Soothe, Refresh and others. The brand that works best for me is Genteal Dry Eye Ointment. I have used it for years.
  • 3. I do not use over the counter drops during the day because they evaporate quickly and make my eyes feel even dryer a few minutes later.
  • 4. Some evenings I use a wash cloth saturated with cool water placed over my eyes. I find this a quick way to refresh them temporarily.
  • 5. One more important thing I never do is use eyeliner on my inner eyelids. I find doing this irritates and dries my eyes even more.

These five practices help me live with chronic dry eyes. I would welcome any suggestions from readers on how they have found relief for their dry eyes!

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