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Dry Eye

What’s the Link Between Dry Eye and Menopause?

Dry Eye and Menopause 640Around 61% of perimenopausal and menopausal women are affected by dry eye syndrome.

During menopause, the body produces less estrogen, progesterone, and androgen, causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms such as sweating, insomnia, and hot flashes.

Among these physical symptoms is dry eyes, characterized by dry, itchy and burning eyes.

If you’re experiencing dry eyes, contact Unger Eye Care today for effective and lasting dry eye treatment.

Biological Changes That Affect Your Eyes

During menopause, the androgen hormone decreases, affecting the meibomian and lacrimal glands in the eyelids. The meibomian glands produce the essential oils for the tears, so the reduction in oil results in increased tear evaporation and drier eyes.

When these fluid and oil-producing glands are affected, the eyelids can become inflamed, reducing tear quality and production, resulting in dry eye syndrome.

Some researchers believe that dry eye is connected to changes in estrogen levels. This explains why many women experience dry eye symptoms during certain times of a woman’s monthly cycle, or while taking birth control pills.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome

  • Red eyes
  • Burning in the eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Gritty feeling in the eyes
  • The feeling something is caught in your eye. Excessive tearing

How Is Hormone-Related Dry Eye Treated?

Because reduced hormones during and after menopause can cause meibomian gland dysfunction, treatment should be focused on reducing dry eye symptoms.

Dry eye treatments can include:

  • Dry eye specific omega 3 formula
  • IPL
  • Eyelid cleansers
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Corticosteroid eye drops
  • Eye lid heating therapy
  • Punctal plugs – to reduce tear flow away from the eyes
  • Preservative free lubricating eye drops

 

 

Q&A

Are there home remedies to treat dry eye syndrome?

Yes. Here are a few things you can do at home to reduce dry eye symptoms.

  • Limit your screen time. People who work at a computer all day blink less, which harms the tear film. Remember to take frequent breaks and to blink.
  • Protect your eyes. Sunglasses that wrap around your face can block dry air and wind.
  • Avoid triggers. Irritants like pollen and smoke can make your symptoms more severe.
  • Try a humidifier. Keeping the air around you moist may help.
  • Eat right. A diet rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids can encourage healthy tear production.
  • Warm Compress. A warm compress will improve oil flow through your eyelid glands and clean your eyelids.

Can dry eye syndrome damage your eyes?

Yes. Without sufficient tears, your eyes are not protected from the outside world, leading to an increased risk of eye infections. Severe dry eye syndrome can lead to abrasions or inflammation on the cornea, the front surface of the eye. This can cause pain, a corneal ulcer, and long-lasting vision problems. Unchecked, your meibomian glands can damage and loose function leading to more severe dry eye.

Menopause causes many changes throughout your body. If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms due to hormonal changes, contact Unger Eye Care to find out what dry eye treatments are available to give your eyes relief.

Unger Eye Care serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, all throughout Illinois.

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Are Face Masks Causing Dry Eye Symptoms?

woman wearing a mask 640Face masks and social distancing have become the first line of defense in COVID-19 prevention.

While these protective measures are essential to combating the virus’ spread, eye doctors are seeing an increase in dry eye cases among people who wear masks. If you are seeking relief, contact us.

What is Mask-Associated Dry Eye (MADE)?

Mask-associated dry eye (MADE) was first described by an ophthalmologist in May 2020 based on the higher rate of dry eye he was seeing in his practice among patients who wore masks. Patients with existing dry eye reported worsening symptoms when wearing a mask.

When a face mask doesn’t fit securely, it can push air from the nose and mouth upward, onto the eyes, causing the tear film — the liquid layer that coats the eyes’ surface — to evaporate more quickly. This leads to MADE.

Dry eye leaves the eyes feeling sore, gritty, dry and irritated. Left untreated, dry eye can cause damage to the cornea.

There are many causes of dry eye, including eye and health conditions, age, gender and certain medications. Insufficient blinking when looking at a digital device or book, poor indoor air quality and pollution can all play a role. Situations that increase how quickly the tear film evaporates can quickly and significantly dry the eye’s surface, leading to more pronounced symptoms.

What Causes Dry Eye When Wearing a Mask?

Wearing a face mask significantly reduces the spread of air when breathing out from the mouth and nose. Instead of moving out, the air moves upwards towards the eyes’ surface. This forces a stream of air over the surface of the eye, causing the tears to evaporate more quickly.

This is the same reason that eyeglasses fog up when wearing a mask.

When masks are worn for long periods of time, this repeated evaporation may lead to dry spots on the eyes’ surface.

 

How to Prevent or Alleviate MADE?

Here are some simple measures to help reduce dry eye while wearing a mask:

  1. Ensure your mask fits well, and consider taping the top edge to prevent air from rising from your mouth toward your eyes.
  2. Limit your time in air-conditioned or heated environments when possible. Also, take regular breaks from digital devices.
  3. Consult your eye doctor, who will examine your eyes and prescribe the best treatment.

Having to wear a face mask to prevent COVID-19’s spread may cause dry eye, but relief is available. Contact Unger Eye Care if you are experiencing dry eye symptoms. We will determine the underlying cause of your dry eye and offer you the best solution so you can get back to having comfortable eyes and vision.

 

Unger Eye Care serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville and Glen Carbon, throughout Illinois.

 

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What’s the Link Between Vaping and Dry Eye?

vaping e cigarette 640Vaping is gaining popularity, with over 10 million people worldwide using e-cigarettes or similar products.

But what many don’t know is that vaping can actually pose risks to your eye health and potentially lead to dry eye syndrome.

What Is Vaping?

For those unfamiliar with vaping, it is the inhalation of aerosol or vapor using either a battery powered e-cigarette, vape pen, or similar device. Attractive flavors like mango, apple pie, and mint are drawing the attention of both smokers and non-smokers.

Although vaping is typically promoted to help smokers kick the habit, an increasing number of non-smokers are getting hooked on vaping. And while traditional cigarettes are more harmful to your health, vaping doesn’t come without risks.

Vaping has been linked to some serious health problems and even deaths. Aside from being damaging to your heart and lungs, it can also be detrimental to your eye health.

How Vaping Can Lead to Dry Eye

Dry eye occurs when the eyes aren’t sufficiently lubricated due to insufficient tears, poor tear quality, or environmental factors. Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include red, itchy, gritty, watery, stinging or burning eyes. In severe cases, dry eye can damage the cornea and lead to vision loss. Those with dry eye may struggle to wear contact lenses and may be prone to light sensitivity or blurred vision.

According to a study published in the Optometry and Vision Science journal, vaping can aggravate the eye’s corneal surface causing moderate-to-severe dry eye symptoms. Vaping can also exacerbate symptoms of dry eye in people who already suffer from the condition. Researchers believe that it’s due to the hazardous byproducts of the chemicals in the vape’s liquid component.

The study also showed that vapers experienced a faster rate of tear breakup and tear evaporation when compared to people who don’t vape. The more severe cases of eye dryness were found in those using higher voltage when compared to those who vaped with a lower voltage.

 

Our Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help

If you or someone you care about is experiencing dry eye symptoms — whether it’s caused by vaping or something else — we can help. Our dry eye optometrist will evaluate your eye health and offer the most effective treatment for your condition.

Suffering from dry eye? Find the relief you seek. Contact Unger Eye Care today to schedule your dry eye evaluation.

Unger Eye Care serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

 

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Prevent Dry Eyes While Keeping Warm This Winter

Girl Winter Orange Scarf blog imageFor most of us, trying to stay warm in the winter means cozy blankets, big sweaters, and enjoying the benefits of indoor heating. But the use of heaters, as lovely as they are, can contribute to dry eye symptoms. Dry eye is one of the most common eye-health concerns and it’s important to be aware of the risks. If left untreated, dry eye can worsen and lead to damaged corneas and impaired vision. Unger Eye Care has years of experience providing specialized treatment for dry eye and offering patients much deserved relief.

Heaters May Lead to Dry Eye

Dry eye also results when the eye either doesn’t produce enough tears or doesn’t produce quality tears to properly lubricate the eye, leading to red, irritated and itchy eyes. Poor quality tears lack the adequate balance of water, mucus, or lipids, leaving the eye insufficiently protected. A heater can, at times, further exacerbate the symptoms.

Heaters, specifically car heaters, can cause dry eyes due to the dry environment they create and the proximity of the blowing air to the eyes. Moreover, the heat leads the tears to evaporate, leaving the eyes unprotected.

Prevent Dry Eye This Winter

While it may be instinctive to switch on the heater upon entering your car, especially if you drive to work in the early morning when it’s coldest, make sure you take these steps to prevent dry eye this winter season.

  • Direct the warm airflow to your body, not your face. We aren’t telling you to turn off heaters altogether, just to make sure the warm air isn’t directly hitting your eyes.
  • Wear sunglasses. They’ll shield the eyes from winds, whether cool or warm and prevent tears from evaporating.
  • Keep hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is not just for the summer! Consuming extra fluids will help keep all parts of the body hydrated, including your eyes. Limit coffee intake, as it can be dehydrating.
  • Remember to blink. We often forget to blink when trying to focus on the road while driving. Being conscientious of this will ensure your eyes remain lubricated and refreshed with every blink.

If you suffer from dry eye or have any questions about your eye health, don’t hesitate to contact us at Unger Eye Care. We are here for you and are committed to providing you with the relief that you deserve. Call us today to book your appointment. Happy winter!

Unger Eye Care provides dry eye relief and treatment to patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

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Your Benefits Can Be Used For Dry Eye Treatments

Dry Eye Africam American Man 640×350Are your eyes red, watery, itchy and burning? There’s a chance you may have Dry Eye Disease (DES).

Check whether you have unused eyecare benefits left in your HSA (health savings account) or FSA (flexible spending account), as these may expire on December 31st. If so, skip the trip to the drugstore and visit Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger at Unger Eye Care to receive unparalleled dry eye relief. Depending on your insurance plan, your benefits may also be applied to a family member.

The first step in making use of your soon-to-expire vision benefits is to call Unger Eye Care and schedule an eye exam.

During your comprehensive eye exam, Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger will assess your condition and offer a variety of dry eye treatments ranging from supplements to soothing eye masks and prescription eye drops. Each dry eye treatment is tailor-made to your specific needs.

Your flex benefits can cover

  • Comprehensive eye exams
  • Contact lenses
  • Glasses
  • Prescription sunglasses

Even Dry Eye Treatments

  • Prescription ointments or eye drops
  • Soothing eye masks
  • Tear duct plugs (Punctal plugs)
  • Steroid eye drops

— among other options.

Hurry before time runs out! Call us at to make the most of your vision benefits or to ask any questions you may have about your HSA or FSA.

Unger Eye Care serves dry eye patients in Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

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How To Prevent Dry, Itchy Eyes This Winter

sport protective eyewear 640x350Winter’s cold air and rainfall are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem. However, this weather can have unfavorable effects on the eyes. The decrease in temperature and humidity levels and the rise of winter’s cool and arid winds may trigger various dry eye symptoms, such as redness, grittiness, stinging, itching, watery eyes, and blurred vision. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent dry eye this winter season, listed below.

Tips To Prevent Winter Dry Eyes

The following tips on preventing dry eye do not replace the advice and care of an optometrist but are meant to shed light on the topic and hopefully render your winter season a more comfortable one.

  • Combat the outdoor dryness by using a humidifier indoors. Your eyes will thank you.
  • Always wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear outside to shield your eyes from winds, debris, and harmful UV rays.
  • Being stuck inside on a snowy day can mean more screen time. Remember to blink often while enjoying that movie or writing that email.
  • Try using lubricating eye drops. Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger can guide you on which eye drops will best suit your needs.
  • Stay hydrated! The eyes are part of a whole system; if one part is dehydrated, chances are the rest of the system could use some hydration as well.
  • Eat foods rich in Omega-3s to promote healthy tears, such as salmon or nuts, as they stimulate quality tears and reduce dryness.

Dry eye symptoms can range from being mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. Don’t let this condition stop you from enjoying this winter season. If you are concerned that you may have dry eye or are experiencing any of its symptoms, speak to us at Unger Eye Care and we’ll be happy to provide you with the relief you need.

Unger Eye Care provides dry eye relief and treatment to patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

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Why Do My Eyes Burn?

Dry Eye Girl 640×350The brief burning sensation you may feel in your eyes is commonly due to a minor irritation that disappears once your tears wash it out. However, if the burning sensation persists for more than a few hours, it may indicate a severe problem such as Pink Eye (conjunctivitis), Dry Eyes, Blepharitis or an allergic reaction.

The only way to diagnose and treat burning eyes is by visiting your eye doctor. If you feel a persistent burning sensation in your eyes, talk to Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger at Unger Eye Care, who will provide you with the relief you need.

What Eye Conditions Cause Burning Eyes

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome is the leading cause of a burning sensation in the eyes. Healthy tears consist of a balance of oil, mucus and water, and when the components are not all there, whether in the right quantities and ratios (as in the case of dry eyes), the eyes become dry and irritated— which can result in a burning sensation.

Pink Eye (Viral or BacterialConjunctivitis)

Pink Eye, also known as viral conjunctivitis, is a highly contagious viral or bacterial infection that can affect either one or both eyes and is spread by coughing or sneezing. The symptoms include watery, burning or itchy eyes.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that causes sore, red eyelids, and crusty debris at the base of the eyelashes. Symptoms include a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes, grittiness, and itchy eyelids.

What Environmental Factors Cause Burning Eyes?

Certain elements can also cause a burning sensation in the eyes, such as allergens, chemicals, perfumes, or getting tiny particles stuck in one’s peepers.

Allergies

Allergens in the air or in your home, such as pet dander or mold, can cause your eyes to itch, tear up, and burn.

Chemicals

Certain chemicals found in household cleaning supplies can cause you to experience a burning sensation. The volatile compounds found in aerosol sprays and disinfectants are not only polluting but also irritating to the eyes.

Fragrances

Certain people that are sensitive to fragrances emanating from perfume, cologne, shampoo, or skin cream, can experience eye irritation, resulting in a burning sensation.

Foreign Particles in Your Eye

When particles get stuck in the eyes, it not only hurts but can also lead to a burning feeling in the eyes.

The Connection Between Burning Eyes and Dry Eyes

woman with close eyes

Tears are necessary for maintaining eye health and for providing clear and comfortable vision. Whenever tiny foreign particles enter the eye, tears form and clean out the eye while keeping the eye moist. However, when tears evaporate too quickly and the eyes become dry, as in the case of Dry Eyes, it can lead to an itchy and burning sensation in the eyes.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Dry Eye Syndrome can be caused by many factors, such as age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, medications, and overall eye health. No matter the factor, the result is the same: your eyes are either not producing enough tears to keep your eyes lubricated, or the tears are not formulated with the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication.

What Factors Cause Dry Eyes?

Age. Dry Eyes tend to occur more frequently in older adults. The majority of those over 65 years of age tend to experience some form of Dry Eyes.

Gender. Women are more likely to develop Dry Eyes due to hormonal changes, whether due to pregnancy, oral contraceptives or menopause.

Medicines. Certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and SSRIs, can affect tear production.

Medical conditions. Those with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems can develop symptoms of Dry Eyes. Furthermore, Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), inflammation of the surface of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can lead to Dry Eyes.

Environment. Dry Eyes can result from exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates, which can cause tears to evaporate.

Additional factors. Long-term contact lens use and refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can reduce tear production and lead to Dry Eyes. Dry Eyes can also occur in those who fail to blink regularly, which typically occurs when staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time.

How Can I Treat or Alleviate Burning Eyes?

If you feel a burning sensation in your eyes, talk to your eye doctor as soon as possible. Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger will carefully diagnose and detect the cause of your discomfort, and if you are diagnosed with Dry Eyes, Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger might recommend medicated eye drops or artificial tears to alleviate the burning sensation and ensure that your eyes remain moisturized all day long. In more severe cases, steroid drops may be prescribed for quick, short-term relief.

If the eye doctor determines that you have Pink Eye or Blepharitis, anti-inflammatory drops will be prescribed. These drops can provide major relief as they target the source of the issue quickly and effectively.

If allergies are the culprit, we can help with that, too. Antihistamines and decongestants can alleviate your symptoms and minimize or even eliminate the burning sensation.

Want your healthy eyes back? Contact Unger Eye Care and say goodbye to burning eyes for good.

We help patients from in and around Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, throughout Illinois, enjoy great vision and comfort again.

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