Dry eyes can be a temporary or chronic condition, and they may get worse during certain times of the year. If left untreated, chronic dry eyes can cause lasting damage to your cornea.
Our knowledgeable ophthalmologists at Ethos Medical Group in Orange, California, can diagnose and treat your dry eye problems before they grow worse. Below, we offer tips on coping with dry eyes during summer.
Signs of chronic dry eyes
Spring and fall allergies may produce symptoms similar to chronic dry eyes, such as redness and dryness. Common symptoms of dry eyes include: itching, burning, excessive watering, and blurred vision.
Depending on where you live, summer can either improve or worsen your condition. Those who reside in the dry, warm heat of Southern California, for instance, might notice an increase in symptoms during the hotter summer months. People living in more humid climates, however, may benefit from the moisture.
What causes chronic dry eye?
Your tears provide a constant source of relief for dry eyes. They carry such healthy ingredients as:
- Lubricating oils
- Moisturizing water
- Antibodies and special proteins to control infection
A shortage of any of these can produce dry eyes. Other causes may include:
- Menopause and the natural aging process
- Antihistamines, which can be overly drying
- Autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis
Coping with the dry heat of summer
While dry eye symptoms often worsen during the winter due to indoor heating and colder, drier outside air, summertime can also present problems. So what’s a SoCal resident to do during the long, sun-drenched California summers?
- Shield your eyes: Protect yourself from UV rays with the right eyewear. Direct exposure to sunlight without proper eye protection can cause your tears to evaporate more quickly during the summer months.
- Moisturize your eyes to keep them healthy: You can use artificial tears as needed. To loosen clogged oil glands, place a compress soaked in a little warm water over your closed eyes.
- Eat more fish: The healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in wild salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel, and tuna helps lubricate your system with healthy oils.
- Blink more: You stare at your phone, television, and computer screen for hours each day, regardless of the season. Remember to blink regularly to keep tears flowing.
- Drink lots of non-alcoholic beverages: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more water or juice. During dry summer months, remember to drink more to keep your body moist. Enjoy water-packed summer fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers and watermelon, to stay hydrated. A little caffeine may help dry eyes, according to recent studies; however, alcohol tends to make dry eyes worse.
Diagnosing your condition
Our expert team of doctors at Ethos Medical Group can diagnose your condition and point you in the right direction for recovery. To begin, we perform a thorough eye exam and take a complete medical history.
Your doctor also may measure tear production using the Schirmer blotting test to see how many tears you produce over a short period of time. Special dyes can be applied via eye drops to determine the surface condition of your eyes. Your doctor looks for specific staining patterns on your corneas and notes how long it takes for your tears to evaporate.
Relief is in sight
Our compassionate ophthalmologists can treat your dry eye condition in a variety of ways, such as:
- Over-the-counter artificial tear solutions for milder symptoms
- Prescription eye drops or ointments to increase tear production or alleviate inflammation
- Recommending a surgical procedure to block your tear ducts so your eyes retain your tears, better lubricating them
Sometimes the solution is right in front of your eyes. For more information about how to care for dry eyes, call us at Ethos Medical Group or book an appointment online.