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What’s The Connection Between Dry Eye And Asthma?

Woman with Dry Eye And AsthmaResearchers have already established several known risk factors for developing dry eye syndrome: the quality of your tears, excessive screen time, air pollution, hormonal fluctuations, aging, certain medications and medical conditions, and even one’s gender (females are more prone).

Here’s another risk factor that’s recently been added to the list: having asthma.

Asthma is a disease of the lungs that affects about 300 million people around the globe. Symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and breathlessness.

Fortunately, asthmatic patients are usually able to do the activities they enjoy by taking prescription medications that facilitate easier breathing.

But medical professionals have noticed that individuals taking these medicines, and sometimes even asthmatic patients who don’t, have a higher incidence of dry eye syndrome.

If you have asthma or any other risk factors for dry eye syndrome, let your eye doctor know. The eye care professionals at Ives Eyecare Center can identify the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms and provide you with lasting dry eye relief.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes consistently lack proper lubrication, either due to insufficient tears or tears that lack essential oils.

Here’s a list of the common dry eye symptoms:

  • Burning, gritty or itchy eyes
  • Eye dryness
  • Red or painful eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Stringy mucus around the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty or inability to wear contact lenses
  • Feeling that something is stuck in your eye

What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

Most cases of dry eye syndrome result from the dysfunction of the meibomian glands in the eyelids, which produce the vital oils needed for healthy tears, and which reduce tear evaporation. But dry eyes can also be caused by some autoimmune diseases, hormone replacement therapy, certain medications and, it appears, asthma or the medications that treat it.

Environmental factors that can bring on dry eye syndrome include exposure to wind or airborne irritants, pollution, infrequent or incomplete blinking (people blink less when they use digital devices), heating, air conditioning and dry weather. Certain makeup products, including mascara, and application methods such as applying makeup on the eyelid margin, can block the glands that lubricate the eyes.

Can Dry Eye Syndrome Be Cured?

There is now a wide range of treatment options that can successfully manage your dry eyes. The key is to allow us to find and target the underlying cause of your condition, so we can create a plan to minimize and sometimes eliminate your dry eye symptoms.

What’s the Link Between Asthma and Dry Eye Syndrome?

Several studies have examined the relationship between asthma and dry eye syndrome and found that although a link exists, researchers aren’t sure exactly why.

One study, published in BMJ Open (2019), found that asthmatic people of Australian, Caucasian and Asian descent have higher rates of dry eye syndrome than those without asthma.

Another study, published in Medicine (2020), established a significant link between asthma and dry eye syndrome, and found that children with asthma tend to have an unstable tear film — a common cause of dry eyes.

One hypothesis is that asthma medications, like inhaled corticosteroids, oral antihistamines and leukotriene receptor antagonists may contribute to eye dryness by inhibiting tear production, but further research is needed.

Could asthma itself be the culprit? Possibly, but more research is needed for a better understanding. What is known, however, is that having low blood oxygen levels caused by severe asthma can deprive the front section of the eye (the cornea) of oxygen, potentially leading to dry eye syndrome.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Research shows that having asthma may increase your risk of experiencing dry eye symptoms.

If you have asthma, speak with your optometrist about lowering your risk of developing dry eye syndrome and make sure to bring all of your asthma medications to your next eye exam.

If you already have certain symptoms of dry eye syndrome, promptly contact Ives Eyecare Center to schedule a dry eye consultation. We’ll create a personalized treatment plan so you can enjoy long-term relief.

Our practice serves patients from Murrysville, West Newton, Delmont, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Paul Ives

Q: What at-home remedies can relieve dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Make sure to stay hydrated and wear sunglasses whenever outdoors. If you use an indoor heater or air conditioner, direct the airflow away from your face. Use a humidifier at home and at work. You can also try using a warm eye compress. Ask your eye doctor for instructions on how to do so. But keep in mind that trying to manage dry eye syndrome without seeing a dry eye optometrist won’t be as effective.

Q: How is dry eye syndrome treated?

  • A: The type of treatment depends on what’s causing the symptoms. For example, if premature tear evaporation is the problem, your optometrist may prescribe eye drops. Or if your meibomian glands aren’t functioning as they should, unclogging the glands may do the trick. Medicated eye ointment or drops may be prescribed, or we may recommend certain in-office dry eye treatments. Each treatment plan is carefully formulated with your eyes and lifestyle in mind.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 724-733-1918

5 Ways to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

Dry Eye Air Travel Tips 640×350While traveling can be taxing on the entire body, the eyes are especially vulnerable — particularly when wearing a mask to protect from COVID. When traveling by plane, the dry air can cause your eyes to become red, parched and irritated. While you can’t control all variables during your travels, eye specialists have discovered a number of ways to reduce the chances of experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of “travelers’ dry eye.”

Here are five suggestions for preventing dry eye from affecting your vision.

Drink plenty of water. If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it will have a tougher time increasing tear production in a dry atmosphere. Humidity levels on planes are typically below 20%, which is lower than the Sahara Desert! Keep your eyes moist and comfortable by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight.

Wear your glasses. Since contact lenses remove moisture from your eye’s surface tear film, they can contribute to dry eye. Wearing your glasses can help keep your eyes moist.

Wear a sleep mask. Even when your eyelids are closed, your eyes might lose moisture, which happens frequently when you sleep. On a plane, a sleep mask can help prevent additional dryness.

Use hydrating eye drops. When you’re in a dry environment, a good hydrating eye drop can provide a brief respite.

Make sure your face mask fits snugly. When a person’s breath rises upward it can dry out their eyes. A face mask that fits securely around the bridge of the nose can prevent air from reaching the eyes.

Is dry eye making you miserable, especially when traveling? Put an end to the discomfort and struggle by contacting Ives Eyecare Center. Our dedicated eye doctors will get to the bottom of your dry eye and provide effective, lasting treatment.

Our practice serves patients from Murrysville, West Newton, Delmont, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Paul Ives

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: In some cases, yes. A range of successful treatment options can help manage dry eye for long-term relief. Your eye doctor can also provide in-office treatments for more advanced forms of dry eye disease.

Q: What type of treatments are available for dry eye?

  • A: Depending on the cause of the dry eye, treatment options include:
    – Lubricants
    – Punctal plugs
    – Topical steroids
    – Warm compresses
    – Protective eyewear
    – Intense pulse light
    – Switching to medications that don’t cause dry eye symptoms

Looking for dry eye treatment? Contact Ives Eyecare Center today!

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 724-733-1918

Why Computer Use Can Cause Dry Eye & Eye Strain

Long Term Computer Use 640Nearly 60% of the Western world use some kind of digital device — a phone, computer, tablet, TV — for at least 5 hours a day. All that screen time can result in eye irritation and dryness. In fact, dry eyes and eye strain have become so common that researchers have coined a name for it: computer vision syndrome (CVS).

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is an eye condition commonly experienced after staring at a computer screen, at arm’s length or closer, for an extended period of time. It is characterized by eye strain and dry eyes.

Because more people work and study at home as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, eye doctors are reporting a significant rise in the number of adults and children exhibiting these symptoms.

The symptoms of CVS include:

  • Red, watery eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • The feeling of having something in your eyes

Computer vision syndrome symptoms are similar to those found among dry eye syndrome sufferers, a condition that also tends to develop as a result of extended computer use when blinking is reduced. Blinking is critical for good eye health as it rejuvenates the tear film on your eyes, ensuring constant hydration and protecting them from damage.

5 Tips to Prevent CVS

Luckily, computer vision syndrome can be effectively managed with a few simple adjustments to your screen time.

  1. Take regular breaks. Follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent staring at your screen for too long. Take a break from your computer or device for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, and look at something at least 20 feet away.
  2. Adjust your angle. Make sure your screen is 20-28 inches from your eyes and that the center of the screen is 4-5 inches lower than eye level.
  3. Use a cool-air humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air and prevents your eyes from drying out.
  4. Reduce glare. Your eyes work harder to read when there is glare reflecting off your screen. Make sure your screen is positioned in a way that prevents glare from windows and lighting. You can also add a glare filter for eye comfort.
  5. Get computer glasses. Computer glasses allow your eyes to focus on a computer screen with less effort and the blue-light filter may also reduce exposure to potentially harmful blue light emitted by digital devices.

By taking regular breaks from your screen, you give your eyes and body a much-needed rest. To learn more about computer vision syndrome and to receive treatment to alleviate dry eye symptoms and eye strain, contact Ives Eyecare Center.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Paul Ives, Dr. Alexa Ives, and Dr. Tessa Ives

 

Q: What’s the link between staring at a computer screen and dry eye?

  • A: Staring at a computer screen can reduce the number of times a person blinks by 30%. That’s problematic because blinking is essential for lubricating the eyes and keeping the protective tear film that covers the eye intact. If you find your eyes becoming irritated or uncomfortable at work, try to blink more, especially while using the computer and reading.

Q: Can blue light glasses help avoid computer vision syndrome and dry eye?

  • A: Spending long periods of time on a computer or device can negatively affect your eyes, potentially leading to computer vision syndrome and dry eye. Symptoms include blurred or double vision, headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue, sleep disruptions, and dry eyes. Computer glasses offer blue light protection by reducing the dangerous effects of blue light and the risks of computer vision syndrome.

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Ives Eyecare Center serves patients from Murrysville, West Newton, Delmont, and Pittsburgh, all throughout Pennsylvania.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 724-733-1918