How to Treat Dry Eye During Summer
If you live in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, you know exactly how hot Texas summers can be. Whereas our summers grant many enjoyable and fun opportunities, they can also exacerbate existing eye conditions or cause certain eye problems. At Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers, one of the most common issues during seasonal changes is dry eye syndrome. Read on to learn precisely why this occurs, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.
Why Is Dry Eye Worse During Summer Months?
Dry eye is an uncomfortable eye condition where your eyes cannot produce enough tears or lubrication. You may have this problem it you present any of the following dry eye symptoms:
- Sore eyes
- Eye fatigue
- Burning sensation
- Watery eyes
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
If you have chronic dry eye, you may find these symptoms occur all year round. However, they may be significantly worse during the spring and summer months. You may also find that in winter months, indoor heating increases the severity of your symptoms.
That said, it is important to know why heat can cause eyes to become severely dry. In this way, you and your eye doctor can determine the best way to prevent and care for your condition. The most common reasons include allergies, dry climate, direct sunlight, swimming pools and spas, dust and smoke, and dehydration. Find out more about each cause below.
North Texas has an incredibly hard allergy season. In the spring and summer, you may encounter various trees, grass, ragweed, and even mold spores. If your symptoms are progressively worse as the weather warms up, you may be suffering seasonal allergies. However, if you experience your symptoms year-round, you could be struggling with allergies from common household triggers such as pet dander, household plants, structural materials, or mold.
Eye allergy symptoms do share commonalities with dry eyes. However, if you have allergic conjunctivitis, you will generally also experience extremely itchy eyes, constant watery eyes, redness, and irritated sinuses. That said, even if you do suffer from these symptoms too, you could also have a bacterial infection.
For these reasons, it is best to book an appointment with our professional eye care team. A board-certified Kleiman Evangelista eye doctor can carefully evaluate and accurately diagnose your concern.
We all know Texas reaches incredibly high temperatures in the summer. Although most of our seasons maintain a sufficient amount of humidity, July and August can be very dry. Additionally, air conditioning can contribute to dry air because it can also dehumidify your indoor air. If you find you spend a large amount of time outdoors in a hot and dry climate, or stay indoors in an air-conditioned environment, the dryness can cause your dry eye. This is because it causes a faster rate of evaporation from any surface, including your eye.
Outdoor activities are most enjoyable when the skies are blue, and the sun is shining. Yet, if you are not taking the proper precautions, UV rays can damage your skin and eyes. Too much direct sunlight can evaporate moisture in your eyes causing dry eye, burnt corneas (photokeratitis), cataracts, or other harmful eye conditions.
Swimming Pools and Spas
If you are like most Texans, you may find a refreshing dip in a swimming pool or a relaxing moment in a spa can make the summer heat bearable. However, after swimming or sitting in chlorine or chemically treated water, you may notice your skin is significantly dry. Likewise, your eyes can dry out. This is mainly due to the fact that harsh chemicals like chlorine can disrupt your eye’s natural tear film and cause irritated eyes. Your tear film is very important to maintaining moisture in your eyes. In fact, since chlorine can strip all three layers of your tear film (oil, water, and mucus), you can also increase your risk for eye damage and bacterial infections.
Dust and Smoke
Campfires and BBQs are a couple of the hallmark activities of summer. Yet, these favorites produce a great deal of smoke which can dry out your eyes. Additionally, certain parts of Texas experience dust storms. Some of this dust comes across the Atlantic Ocean all the way from the Sahara Desert, impacting your respiratory and eye health. Smoke and dust carry tiny particles, which can stick to your lens or tear film. If you already have dry eyes or the elements cause dry eyes, these particles may remain there for quite some time. This can cause prolonged dry eyes and irritation.
Do you drink enough water? Dehydration can cause or aggravate dry eye symptoms, just as it can cause issues in every organ throughout your body. If you are doing activities in the hot weather or simply sitting outdoors in the sun, you may need to drink more water than usual in order to keep your eyes lubricated. If not, you may not produce enough tears for your eyes to stay moisturized.
How to Prevent Dry Eye
Our Kleiman Evangelista team knows dry eyes can be uncomfortable, and even downright painful. As summer is just around the corner, we want to make sure you are as prepared as possible. Read more to find our expert preventative tips.
1. Wear Sunglasses
Just as you may protect your skin from the harsh, summer UV rays, you need to protect your eyes. The best sunglasses are 100 percent UV protection or absorb up to 400-nanometer wavelength. You should wear your sunglasses whether it is directly sunny or cloudy out, as UV rays can pass through clouds as well. If you wear glasses or contacts, you may wish to ask a Kleiman Evangelista eye doctor about contact lenses providing UV protection or absorption.
2. Wear Swim Goggles
As chlorine and other chemicals can damage your tear film, it is important to acquire well-fitting swim goggles. Added benefits include protection against red or irritated eyes, pink eye, and severe eye infections.
Properly hydrate to make sure your body is running properly, including delivering moisture to your eyes. When you are outside during the summer or going from air-conditioned to outdoor spaces frequently, be sure to drink plenty of water. Other ways of ensuring adequate hydration include cutting down on dehydrating drinks such as alcohol or caffeine and increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables with high water content.
4. Use Eye Drops
If you find you are experiencing less tear production or eye moisture, you can purchase over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears. You can find them in most drug stores; however, you may wish to ask your eye doctor, doctor, or pharmacist before purchasing a certain kind, especially if you suffer from other eye conditions or wear contact lenses. In general, these artificial solutions can help moisturize your eye in temporary situations.
5. Take Your Vitamins
Do you want to naturally increase tear production? Consider adding or increasing omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. You can incorporate fish, flaxseed and soybean oils, nuts and seeds, or eggs as these foods are rich in fatty acids. Furthermore, vitamin A may help with the quality of tears and vitamin D may assist in tear stability. Orange, yellow, and green fruits and vegetables can be excellent ways to inject more of these vitamins into your meals. However, you should speak with your health care provider before changing your diet or adding new vitamins or supplements.
6. Visit the Eye Doctor
Is your dry eye lasting a long time? Are your symptoms becoming worse? Are you experiencing blurry vision or any vision changes? Book an appointment with your trusted Kleiman Evangelista eye care team. We can evaluate your eyes, diagnose your eye condition, and provide treatment options.
How to Treat Dry Eye
If you are experiencing dry eye, it is important to come in for a professional evaluation at Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers. Although there are preventative measures you can take to reduce the severity of symptoms, only experts can determine if your dry eye needs special treatment, if it has led to other serious eye problems, or if it is actually another health concern such as an eye infection. Our eye doctors can perform thorough eye evaluations and exams to ensure your diagnosis is accurate and you receive the treatment you need.
Depending on the severity of your dry eye, we may provide one of the following common treatments.
One of the most effective ways to relieve dry eye pain and reduce irritation, inflammation, or fatigue is a warm compress. However, only a qualified eye doctor should prescribe this treatment. An eye exam reveals if you have clear or blocked meibomian glands, responsible for producing oil for your tear film. Since a warm compress can improve oil flow, this treatment coupled with blocked glands could cause further eye problems.
Moreover, eye doctors can perform meibomian gland expression to achieve the same effect. Your eye care specialist gently squeezes your glands to express the oils and lubricate your eye.
Prescription Eye Drops
Like over-the-counter eye drops, prescription eye drops can help temporary or chronic cases of dry eye. However, prescription eye drops are usually medicated. This means they work better for allergy-associated dryness or eye infections.
Serum tears are excellent for severe and chronic dry eyes. Unlike artificial tears, labs create serum tears out of your own blood. In this way, they may have better healing and pain-relief effects.
Punctal plugs are tiny, blocking devices placed in your tear duct openings (puncta). These tear ducts are responsible for draining tears. If doctors block them, your eye retains more moisture. Effectively, they reduce dry eye symptoms. Punctal plugs usually work best after inflammation has been treated.
Find Relief in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas Area
If you experience constant dry eye, consult our Kleiman Evangelista eye care team. Find relief when you come for a professional exam and effective treatments. Contact us today to set up an appointment!