Dry Eyes and Healthy Aging
We’re rolling into another season of the year as summer winds down and the nights are getting dark earlier. September is National Healthy Ageing Month and we want to point out some advantages of annual exams and health visits. When it comes to your vision many diseases can be slowed down, stopped, or even reversed if caught early. Having routine screenings helps to give a baseline for your doctor to better be able to notice changes in your eyes.
If your eyes aren’t giving you any discomfort, they may become a second thought. However, a condition called dry eye can become unpleasant, painful and create a gritty feeling as well as blurred vision. Based on data from the National Health and Wellness Survey, 6.8 percent of the United States adult population (approximately 16.4 million people) have been diagnosed with Dry Eye Disease with women more likely to develop dry eyes after menopause.
Tears are made up of three layers. The layer closest to the cornea is a thin mucus that helps tears adhere to the surface. The middle layer contains the watery portion of the tears. The outer layer is composed of fatty oils. A proper mix helps maintain healthy tears, which coat and lubricate the eyes, nourish cells, wash away dust and other irritants to ward off infection and keep the surface smooth so you can see clearly.
Certain medical conditions can impact our tear function, triggering dry eye — among them, systemic autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus), as well as diabetes, strokes and thyroid problems. Antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medication, and hormone replacement therapy to relieve symptoms of menopause can also lead to dry eyes.
If you suffer from dry eyes, these tips can help alleviate dry eye symptoms:
- Take a tech break – using the 20 20 20 rule. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes, focusing on something 20 feet in the distance for at least 20 seconds.
- Increase moisture in your environment with the use of a humidifier.
- Protect your eyes from nature’s elements with wrap-around frames to protect from wind, frigid temps and bright sunlight.
- Limit contact usage by switching to daily disposable lenses or wear glasses
- Over-the-counter eye drops may provide some relief but prescription artificial tears may add relief if over the counter options don’t work.
- Clean eyelids regularly with a mild cleanser or eyelid scrub such as Ocusoft.
Vision loss is not always noticeable immediately. Many times an individual can lose a significant amount of vision before it becomes noticeable. When vision loss is detected early, the person stands a much greater chance of being able to slow down or even prevent their vision loss.
Medical screenings are important too. Annual physicals, bloodwork, and regular cancer screenings can be a pivotal point of identifying a problem and taking the proper steps to treat it. These screenings also provide peace of mind that you are as healthy as you can be.
Diet and exercise also play in role in healthy aging. It’s easy to come home from a long day at the office, run through the take out window and grab a quick bite. Taking time to plan and cook meals on the weekend allows for better eating habits and healthier food all around.
Put regular exercise into your routine that will help shed some unwanted pounds. Take a walk at lunch or right after work if you can. As we grow older, gone are the responsibilities of running kids to their various activities. Make taking care of yourself the priority and put exercise into your calendar.
While we, at Bissell Eye Care, focus on vision and helping our patients to see to the best of their ability, we want to stress that importance of not just routine eye appointments, but all suggested medical appointments and screenings. As we age it becomes more important than ever to take care of yourself. The quality of our lives as we age, will depend on what we do today.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.