How do you know if you have dry eyes? Symptoms of dry eyes can easily be self-diagnosed. No surprise, the number one symptom of dry eyes is in fact the feeling of a dry eye. Contact wearers are often familiar with dry eyes becuase the longer contacts are worn, the more likely the lens will absorb tears as the lens over the cornea partially blocks oxygen from entering the eye. Contact induced dry eyes develop when there is shortage of lacrimal fluid causing gaps in the tear film causing irritation to the surface of the eye. Low quality or poorly fitted contact lenses can also cause dry eyes.
Dry eyes do not just affect those wearing contact lenses. Chronic dry eye is a common condition that affects an estimated 4.88 million people, most of whom are age 50 or older. Dry eye symptoms can be managed. To know if you are experiencing dry eyes, you will notice symptoms since dry eye is uncomfortable. Eyes require adequate lubrication for proper health and vision. Dry eye signs and symptoms usually affect both eyes and include a stinging or burning sensation, redness, swelling, stringy mucous in or around the eye, blurred vision or eye fatigue, sensitivity to light, the sensation of having something in the eye, difficulty wearing contact lenses, difficulty driving at night, and water eyes, a response from the eyes to the irritation of dry eyes.
To be sure you have dry eyes, your eye doctor can administer several test options starting with a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your overall eye health. Aside from detailing your symptoms that may be synonymous with dry eyes, the Schirmer test can measure your tear production. The test involves placing blotting strips of paper under your lower eyelids. After five minutes your doctor measures the amount of strip soaked by your tears. Another option for measuring tear volume is the phenol red thread test. In this test, a thread filled with pH-sensitive dye (tears change the dye color) is placed over the lower eyelid, wetted with tears for 15 seconds and then measured for tear volume. A tear osmolarity test measures the composition of particles and water in your tears. Dry eyes are likely the cause for the decrease in water. Over the counter eye drops and prescription medications are often easy solutions to treating dry eyes. For more serious cases, your eye doctor will determine other avenues of treatment such as special contact lenses, light therapy, eyelid massage or the closing of tear ducts.
If you would like to know if you have dry eyes, contact Eye Institute of South Jersey, P.C. by 856-205-1100 or website to schedule an exam. Our team of eye care professionals can diagnose and provide relief from the discomfort of dry eyes.