Lifestyle Changes May Prevent Dry Eye Syndrome
"This is a good study, but it does not demonstrate cause and effect for the associated findings," John E. Sutphin, MD, a professor in the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences at The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, tells WebMD. Still, Sutphin, who was not involved with the study, says he will make patients more aware of the associations, particularly smoking.
Sutphin points out that the study also does not classify symptoms that may be caused by eyelid disease, instead of just symptoms brought on by lack of tears. And of course, dry eye can often result from a number of other factors, including living in a hot, dry, or windy climate, or working in an air-conditioned environment.
Data also revealed that symptoms of dry eye are common in the older population and affect one in five persons over age 80, and nearly one in 10 in people younger than 60 years. And the odds for dry eye increased 35% for each additional 10 years of age.
Left untreated, dry eyes can lead to other problems. Besides lubricating the eye, the tear film helps fight infection, provides nourishment, and creates a smooth surface on the cornea, keeping your vision clear.
Experts say that it is important to evaluate and treat dryness, not only for comfort, but also for your eye's health. Treatments for dry eye may include artificial tears, drinking eight to 10 glasses of water each day, blinking frequently, and paying close attention to symptoms. It's best to work closely with your eye care provider to get the best relief.
Ebroon agrees, and adds: "Patients can always take a more active role in any condition. There's a lot that can be done to treat dry eye, so patients shouldn't feel frustrated. We have wonderful topical lubricants, and a product called punctal plug that can help relieve symptoms. My advice is to seek out help, because there are many things that can be done."