Did you know? Between 16 million and 49 million Americans have dry eyes. This is 5-15% of the population! And there are more of you in Colorado than in many other states.\r\n\r\nDry eye symptoms are usually not harmful at first. But if left untreated dry eyes can be uncomfortable. Potentially, untreated dry eyes can affect your vision and harm the long-term health of your eyes. \r\n\r\nHere are some signs that you might be experiencing dry eyes: \r\n\r\nItching eyes\r\nRedness\r\nFeeling like something is in your eyes\r\nLight sensitivity \r\nEye fatigue \r\nBlurred vision\r\nThere are many causes of these dry eye symptoms, such as:\r\n\r\nMedications\/medical conditions\r\nAge \r\nWeather\r\nEnvironmental conditions\r\nAllergies\r\nGender\r\nAs we enter the cold and dry winter months, Coloradans may feel like their eyes are not producing enough tears to keep them properly lubricated. Cold weather is one of the leading causes of dry eyes because of a drop in humidity. \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFortunately, dry eyes are usually easy to treat. During the autumn and winter months (or any time of year), here are five ways to keep your eyes feeling their best!\r\n\r\nAvoid places with a lot of air movement\r\nTurn on a humidifier\r\nRest your eyes frequently when doing near tasks\r\nStay away from smoke\r\nAdd omega-3 fatty acids to your diet\r\nIf these home remedies do not solve your dry eye issue, you could be experiencing chronic dry eye. Chronic dry eye can be alleviated by intervention from your Loveland optometrist, Dr. Kenneth Van Amerongen. As an eye doctor, he can prescribe medications to limit and manage the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye. \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIf the symptoms still are not going away, there are other options to manage dry eyes such as:\r\n\r\nSpecial contact lenses. Ask your doctor about newer contact lenses designed to help people with dry eyes. Daily disposable contact lenses are often the best choice for patients with dry eyes. Some people with severe dry eyes may opt for special contact lenses that protect the surface of the eyes and trap moisture. These are called scleral lenses or bandage lenses.\r\nUnblocking oil glands. Warm compresses or eye masks used daily can help clear up blocked oil glands. In-office procedures to clear blocked glands often help in more severe cases, or in cases where the meibomian glands are atrophied.\r\nUsing light therapy and eyelid massage. A technique called intense-pulsed light therapy followed by a massage of the eyelids has proved to help people with moderate to severe dry eyes. This is also helpful with patients who have a condition called ocular rosacea.\r\nClosing your tear ducts to reduce tear loss. Your doctor may suggest this treatment to keep your tears from leaving your eye too quickly. This can be done by partially or completely closing your tear ducts, which normally serve to drain tears away.\r\nTear ducts can be plugged with tiny silicone plugs (punctal plugs). These are removable. Or tear ducts can be plugged with a procedure that uses heat. This is a more permanent solution called thermal cautery.\r\n\r\nMedications to treat chronic inflammation associated with Dry Eye. Dr. Van Amerongen may prescribe short-term or long-term medication to assist in controlling the inflammation. There are many options available.\r\nThe sooner you begin treatment the easier it is to control chronic dry eyes long-term. \r\n\r\nYour annual comprehensive eye exam is a great time to discuss dry eye concerns, care, and management with Dr. Van.\r\n\r\nCall your Loveland optometrist, Dr. Kenneth Van Amerongen, for an appointment today.