You’ve probably seen a commercial for chronic dry eyes at least once in your life and if you remember Bill Stein from the 1990’s you’ll know exactly what we mean. While his eye drop commercials were quite humorous, anyone living with chronic dry eyes knows the opposite is true.
Unlike many eye disorders, chronic dry eyes present a number of symptoms, including:
- Stinging and burning sensation
- Feeling like something scratchy or gritty is in your eyes
- Eye irritation and redness
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Pain when wearing contact lenses
- Excess tears inside your eyes
- Strings of mucus in or around your eyes
Knowing that the “cure” for these irritating symptoms is available at your local convenience store, you may be tempted self-diagnose your dry eye condition and just buy eye drops for temporary relief. While there is a time and a place for over-the-counter eye drops, it’s important to follow up with your eye doctor if you experience chronic dry eye symptoms for longer than 48 hours. Here’s why:
1. Using non-prescribed eye drops for a long period of time is not good for your eyes or your health. There are many over the counter drops available for eye symptoms, but each works in a different manner. While all drops are “wet”, not all may treat your specific symptoms.
2. Treating the symptoms of chronic dry eyes is not the same thing as treating the cause. Some patients are well controlled using over the counter artificial tears, but sometimes more aggressive treatment is necessary. Understanding why you’re experiencing chronic dry eye symptoms is important to finding safe and permanent relief.
3. Your dry eye symptoms might not actually be caused by dry eyes. Symptoms like stinging, burning, light sensitivity, and blurry vision are found in a number of other eye disorders, not just chronic dry eyes. Scheduling an appointment with your eye doctor is the only way to determine the underlying cause.
4. If you have dry eyes, you might have another undiagnosed eye condition too. Chronic dry eyes go hand-in-hand with other eye disorders like entropion (when your eyelids turn inward) and entropion (when your eyelids turn outward). Corneal erosions are also common in people with chronic dry eyes and should be addressed as quickly as possible to avoid further eye damage.
While self-diagnosing chronic dry eyes may seem like the easiest thing to do, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor if you experience any of the eye symptoms listed above for more than 48 hours.
During your eye examination, your ophthalmologist will be able to correctly diagnose your chronic dry eyes and/or other eye disorder and offer you safer and more permanent treatment options. If you don’t already have an eye doctor or you need a second opinion, feel free to request an appointment with one of our trusted physicians by filling out this form or by calling 865-579-3920.