Dry Eyes and the Risk of Infection
Tears play much an important role when it comes to the health of our eyes. When tears aren’t being produced in sufficient quantities or are just not present, it can lead to irritating uncomfortable dry eye. Dr. Daniel J. Tepper offers advanced dry eye treatment and prevention options, and has helped numerous people throughout Chicago, IL experience greater comfort and healthier eyes in the process.
Dry eye can potentially increase your risk of eye infections, particularly if you experience dry eye for a long time. The team at Wicker Park Eye Center would like to consider why this is and what treatments are available.
The Function of Tears
Tears themselves are comprised of a mixture of oil, water, and mucus. Each time we blink, a film of tears coats and lubricates the eye. This lubrication along the surface of the cornea is helpful at soothing the eye, washing away impurities, clearing foreign objects, and in the process, reducing your risk of infection.
What Happens When Your Eyes Are Dry?
If your eyes are dry, the film of tears that should be present is not there to flush out the eyes and keep them lubricated. This can lead to a high level of discomfort.
The dryness can also contribute to a higher risk of eye infection since forming objects and impurities on the corneal surface are not being removed. This means bacteria, allergens, and other potential causes of eye infections remain on your corneal surface longer than they should. If you wear contact lenses, this could also lead to an even higher risk of infection.
Causes of Dry Eye
The most common causes of dry eye include:
- Poor Tear Composition - Imbalances in the composition of your tears could make them ineffective at their usual task.
- Environmental Dryness - Low humidity, arid environments, and smoky environments can all contribute to increased instances of dry eye.
- Dehydration - If you are dehydrated, it could potentially affect your body’s ability to produce good quality tears.
- Use of Certain Medications - Certain medications cause the eyes to become dry as a side effect.
- Symptom of Certain Medications - Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause dry eye to occur.
- Advanced Age - Tear product can be slowed down as a result of the aging process. People age 65 and older often experience issues with dry eye.
- Gender - Women tend to experience dry eye more than men given hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy, menopause, and the use of oral contraceptives.
Treatments for Dry Eye
When treating dry eye syndrome, there are generally three options to consider:
- Adding moisture to the eyes
- Preserving tears that are produced
- Treating any underlying factors causing dry eye
After diagnosing the cause or causes of your dry eye, we will be able to provide lubricating eye drops to add moisture to your eyes and can also place plugs into your tear ducts to keep as much moisture in your eyes as possible. We can also recommend ideal treatments for the underlying medical condition that is causing your dry eye.
When Professional Help Is Necessary
If you notice excessive dry eye and recurring eye infections as a result, that is a good time to seek help from an eye care specialist. Be sure to get the help you need as soon as possible since recurring dry eye issues can lead to corneal scarring if they are not addressed.
Learn More About Treating Dry Eye
To learn more about treating and preventing dry eye, be sure to contact our eye doctors and vision specialists. The team at Wicker Park Eye Center is here to help. You can reach our practice by phone at (773) 376-2020.