How Does Aging Affect Dry Eye?

How Does Aging Affect Dry Eye?

How Does Aging Affect Dry Eye?

How Does Aging Affect Dry Eye?

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition affecting up to 30% of individuals over 50. It is a result of inadequate tear quality or insufficient tear quantity. Tears help keep the eyes moist and nourished. They consist of water, oil, and mucus. A problem with any of the three elements can cause a tear film imbalance that affects tear production. The condition hurts the patient’s quality of life. Find out how aging affects dry eye. 


Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome


People with DES experience various symptoms, including:

  • Itchy or burning eyes

  • The sensation of something in the eye

  • Eye redness

  • Blurry vision

  • Sore or sensitive eyes

  • Watery eyes or excessive tearing

  • Eyelid inflammation

Eye discomfort can vary in severity among individuals. If you experience the symptoms, visit an eye doctor for a proper diagnosis. 


Risk Factors for Dry Eye Syndrome


Several factors can increase the risk of developing DES. Studies show the condition is most prevalent among people over 50. It is also more common among women than men. Other risk factors are certain medications, connective tissue diseases, and the use of contact lenses. People with a history of eye surgery or stem cell transplant have a high risk of developing the condition. Lifestyle factors such as smoking and digital device use can increase the risk.


Aging and Dry Eye Syndrome 


Aging increases the risk of developing DES. It happens due to various reasons, such as:

  • Lacrimal gland function. The gland produces aqueous fluid (water) for the tear film. The amount of fluid decreases with age, affecting the eyes’ ability to retain moisture.

  • Meibomian gland degeneration. The meibomian gland is responsible for the production of oil for the tear film. The oil helps reduce the rate of tear evaporation. As people age, the glands may degenerate or become blocked, reducing oil production and causing DES.

  • Hormonal changes. Menopause is a common cause of dry eye syndrome. Studies suggest about 60% of menopausal women have DES. Some women who use hormonal replacement therapy also risk developing dry eyes.

  • Certain medications. Many senior adults take medications for various age-related conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, and Parkinson’s. Some medications prescribed to treat the conditions can increase the risk of developing DES. 


Alleviating Dry Eye Syndrome 


There are several things you can do to alleviate dry eye symptoms. OTC eye drops or artificial tears can help keep the eyes hydrated. They can help relieve mild to moderate DES symptoms. 

If they fail to provide much relief, doctors can recommend prescription eye drops. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water all day can help reduce the symptoms. It also helps to reduce screen time and rest the eyes as often as possible during digital device use. 


Regular Eye Exams


Eye specialists recommend regular eye exams as people age. The exams can detect various eye conditions, including dry eye syndrome. If you have DES, the doctor can recommend the best treatment. Regular exams will allow the doctor to monitor your condition. 

The natural aging process can increase the risk of developing ocular issues that can cause dry eye disease. Eating a healthy diet and getting adequate sleep can reduce dry eye symptoms. If you experience uncomfortable symptoms, visit an eye specialist for diagnosis. 

For more information on how aging affects dry eye, visit Quality Eye Care at our Jacksonville or Gainesville, Florida office. Call (904) 601-1300 to schedule an appointment today.

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