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How to Tell if You Have Chronic Dry Eye

Chronic dry eye is a condition that affects thousands of people. But how do you know if your dry eyes are actually chronic dry eye? What is the difference between just regular occasional dry eyes and an chronic dry eye condition?

First of all, what causes dry eyes? The condition is caused by a lack of natural moisturizers and lubricants in natural tears. It is often suffered by those who watch a lot of television, spend a lot of time on the computer, knit, or frequently perform other tasks that involve prolonged focusing of the eyes. Other dry eye causes include changes in weather or climate.

Chronic dry eye has many persistent symptoms that are common across all cases of the condition. These include a feeling of pain in the eye; a dry, grainy feeling to the eye, as though a foreign object is present; persistent redness, irritation or swelling; and the onset of uncontrollable eye watering.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: retropc

Some may be surprised to learn that excessive eye watering is one of the common symptoms of chronic dry eye. The watering is the result of the body over-compensating in an attempt to soothe the eyes.

While many people experience these symptoms on occasion, people with chronic dry eye syndrome experience them on a very regular (sometimes daily) basis and for prolonged periods of time.

To know for certain of your dry eyes are actually chronic dry eye, there are test available that can diagnose the problem. An ophthalmologist can measure tear production by either placing a small piece of filter paper under the eyelid and measuring the moisture content of the paper after a certain period of time, or by using special eye drops that gauge tear production.

If you are experiencing chronic dry eye symptoms, there are several things you can do to treat them. The easiest and least expensive way to treat chronic dry eye is with over-the-counter eye drops. Look for “natural tears” varieties that will help to lubricate the eyes. Those with severe symptoms may wish to try gel eye drops, which coat the eye and provide soothing relief. However they can cause blurred vision for a short period of time, so they are often recommended for nighttime use.

While over-the-counter eye drops are the most common treatment for chronic dry eyes, some people may still find that their symptoms persist. If OTC eye drops do not work for you, ask your ophthalmologist about prescription eye drops formulated specifically for treating symptoms of chronic dry eye.

The most persistent cases of dry eye may be candidates for tear duct plugs. These small silicone plugs are inserted by a doctor into the tear ducts and can help relieve the symptoms associated with chronic dry eye. If your eye doctor thinks you may be a good candidate for tear duct plugs, temporary plugs, which will dissolve over time, can be inserted to see if they bring relief.

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