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Why is My Dry Eye More Severe in the Mornings?

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Why is My Dry Eye More Severe in the Mornings?

sleepy mornings 640Waking up in the morning is hard enough, but waking up with stinging, burning eyes is even worse! If your eyes feel itchy and scratchy, this miserable morning sensation may be caused by dry eye syndrome. Your tear glands may be clogged or producing insufficient tears and oils to retain moisture.

But why do certain people experience more acute dry eye symptoms in the mornings? Here are some reasons:

What Causes Red, Itchy or Painful Eyes Upon Waking?

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is the inability to close one’s eyelids completely during sleep. Since the surface of your eye is exposed at night, it becomes dry. Left untreated, this condition can damage your cornea.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyes caused by bacterial overgrowth. These bacteria are active at night, causing dry eye-related symptoms of redness, soreness and irritation upon waking.

Environment

A gritty sensation in your eyes can also be caused by the environment. For example, sleeping directly in front of or under an air vent, heating units, or ceiling fans can dry out your eyes. In addition, sensitivity to allergens like dust that accumulate in the bedroom can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated.

Medications

Some types of over-the-counter and prescription medication can dehydrate the eyes. These include:

  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Hypertension drugs
  • Hormones
  • Drugs for gastrointestinal problems
  • Pain relievers
  • Skin medications
  • Chemotherapy medications

In the majority of cases, medication-related dry eye symptoms will resolve once you discontinue the meds. However, it may take several weeks or months for symptoms to completely disappear.

Age

Many people develop dry eye symptoms with age, as tear production tends to decrease and becomes less efficient as we grow older.

How to Treat Morning Dry Eye

Depending on the cause, morning dry eye can be treated with sleeping masks, lubricating eye drops and ointment applied right before bed. To ensure that you sleep in a moisture-rich environment, consider using a humidifier. In severe cases of nocturnal lagophthalmos, eyelid surgery may be necessary.

If you are tired of waking up to red, burning eyes, visit your eye doctor for long-lasting relief. Contact The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center to determine the cause of your morning dry eye and receive an effective treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Moshe Schwartz

Q: What causes dry eye?

  • A: Dry eye can occur if the glands in your eyelids don’t produce enough oil to keep your tears from evaporating, or if you don’t produce enough water for healthy tears. No matter the cause, it’s important to have your condition diagnosed and treated to protect your vision and ensure good eye health.

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: Dry eye is a chronic condition, so there’s is no cure for it. However, many treatment methods can help you manage this condition for long-term relief. If you have dry eye syndrome, we invite you to contact us to discover the best treatment for your needs.


 

The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City and Randallstown, all throughout Maryland.

 

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Can Drinking Coffee Relieve Dry Eyes?

Can Drinking Coffee Relieve Dry Eyes 640Many of us enjoy a cup or two of coffee in the morning to keep our eyes awake and mind alert. But what else can caffeine do for our eyes?

If you suffer from dry eye syndrome (DES), characterized by dry, itchy and red eyes, you may have been advised by a friend or doctor to steer clear of caffeinated coffee due to its diuretic effect. Caffeinated beverages increase the frequency of urination, which leads to water loss. Yet some research suggests that a cup of caffeinated joe might actually promote tear production.

Below, we’ll explore scientific research that studies the relationship between caffeine consumption and tear film.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • Dry eye syndrome (DES) is an eye condition characterized by dry, stinging, red, itchy eyes. It can be caused by several factors: poor tear quality, insufficient tears, allergies, environmental irritants and excessive digital screen time. Left untreated, DES can lead to corneal damage and scarring and even permanent vision loss in severe cases.
    Certain foods and beverages have been shown to improve the symptoms of DES, like fish high in omega 3s, leafy greens, seeds, nuts, and…possibly coffee.

How Does Caffeine Consumption Impact Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • Caffeine contains a chemical called xanthine, which has been shown to stimulate tear production when applied topically to the eye. As yet, there is insufficient published research to confirm that ingesting xanthine provides the same tear-producing effect, though preliminary studies seem to suggest that it does.

 

A study published in Optometry and Vision Science found that drinking caffeinated beverages significantly increased tear production after 45-90 minutes. Interestingly, age, gender and body mass had no bearing on the outcome.

Another study, published in Ophthalmology, found similar results. Researchers measured the participants’ tear film twice: once after consuming caffeine and once after drinking a placebo. Their tear film was thickest after consuming caffeine, especially in those with a specific genetic makeup.

While both of these studies showed promising results, they didn’t include enough participants to accurately project the findings onto the general population.

If You Have Dry Eye Syndrome, We Can Help

Finding relief from dry eye syndrome relies on understanding the root cause of your symptoms. Only your eye doctor can diagnose the problem and determine the best treatment for you, whether in the form of medicated or lubricating eye drops, in-clinic treatments, personalized eye hygiene products like eyelid cleansing wipes, nutritional supplements and more.

For long-lasting relief from dry eye syndrome, schedule your dry eye consultation with The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center today.

The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City, and Randallstown, all throughout Maryland.

References:

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Why Computer Use Can Cause Dry Eye & Eye Strain

Long Term Computer Use 640Nearly 60% of the Western world use some kind of digital device — a phone, computer, tablet, TV — for at least 5 hours a day. All that screen time can result in eye irritation and dryness. In fact, dry eyes and eye strain have become so common that researchers have coined a name for it: computer vision syndrome (CVS).

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is an eye condition commonly experienced after staring at a computer screen, at arm’s length or closer, for an extended period of time. It is characterized by eye strain and dry eyes.

Because more people work and study at home as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, eye doctors are reporting a significant rise in the number of adults and children exhibiting these symptoms.

The symptoms of CVS include:

  • Red, watery eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • The feeling of having something in your eyes

Computer vision syndrome symptoms are similar to those found among dry eye syndrome sufferers, a condition that also tends to develop as a result of extended computer use when blinking is reduced. Blinking is critical for good eye health as it rejuvenates the tear film on your eyes, ensuring constant hydration and protecting them from damage.

5 Tips to Prevent CVS

Luckily, computer vision syndrome can be effectively managed with a few simple adjustments to your screen time.

  1. Take regular breaks. Follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent staring at your screen for too long. Take a break from your computer or device for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, and look at something at least 20 feet away.
  2. Adjust your angle. Make sure your screen is 20-28 inches from your eyes and that the center of the screen is 4-5 inches lower than eye level.
  3. Use a cool-air humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air and prevents your eyes from drying out.
  4. Reduce glare. Your eyes work harder to read when there is glare reflecting off your screen. Make sure your screen is positioned in a way that prevents glare from windows and lighting. You can also add a glare filter for eye comfort.
  5. Get computer glasses. Computer glasses allow your eyes to focus on a computer screen with less effort and the blue-light filter may also reduce exposure to potentially harmful blue light emitted by digital devices.

By taking regular breaks from your screen, you give your eyes and body a much-needed rest. To learn more about computer vision syndrome and to receive treatment to alleviate dry eye symptoms and eye strain, contact The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O.

 

Q: What’s the link between staring at a computer screen and dry eye?

  • A: Staring at a computer screen can reduce the number of times a person blinks by 30%. That’s problematic because blinking is essential for lubricating the eyes and keeping the protective tear film that covers the eye intact. If you find your eyes becoming irritated or uncomfortable at work, try to blink more, especially while using the computer and reading.

Q: Can blue light glasses help avoid computer vision syndrome and dry eye?

  • A: Spending long periods of time on a computer or device can negatively affect your eyes, potentially leading to computer vision syndrome and dry eye. Symptoms include blurred or double vision, headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue, sleep disruptions, and dry eyes. Computer glasses offer blue light protection by reducing the dangerous effects of blue light and the risks of computer vision syndrome.


The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City, and Randallstown, all throughout Maryland.


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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 The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center 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:

  • Artificial tears
  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Eyelid hygiene
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Corticosteroid eye drops
  • Medications that reduce eyelid inflammation
  • Punctal plugs – to reduce tear flow away from the eyes

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Moshe Schwartz

 

Q: Are there home remedies to treat dry eye syndrome?

  • A: 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.

Q:Can dry eye syndrome damage your eyes?

  • A: 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.Menopause causes many changes throughout your body. If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms due to hormonal changes, contact The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center to find out what dry eye treatments are available to give your eyes relief.


The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City, and Randallstown, all throughout Maryland.


Book An Appointment
Call Us 410-587-0099

Winter Dry Eye In Maryland – Tips to Deal with the Cold

winter and dry eye 640Oh, winter in Maryland the days are too short, our commutes on 695 are still terrible, and so many of us are now glued to a computer screen for eight-plus hours a day. Whether you’re focused on the road or on a screen, you might be noticing an increase in your dry eye symptoms. Cold winter air is dry.

Once we turn on our heaters, the air in our homes also become dry. We can help that by adding a humidifier to your workspace and to your sleep space and and that can really go a long way in adding moisture to the air to help prevent dry eye symptoms from worsening.

When you’re in the car, a little tip would be to not point the air vent directly at your face. Point it down so that you don’t have that hot air blowing right on your eyes. That’s certainly going to make for an increase in dry eye symptoms and. This may seem obvious, but we really need to remember to be conscious blinkers, especially computer users.

We need to be taking good solid breaks from our screens and it doesn’t have to be a long break. About every 20 minutes, you can look away from your screen and do five or six really hard squeezing blinks. Just shut your eyelids for a few seconds as tight as you can and then open them back up. Repeat for five or six times in a row and this will really help train your eyes to be good blinkers.

Strong blinkers can make healthy tears that can coat and protect the eye.

Certainly if you’re doing these things and you’re still experiencing symptoms then you should really just come see us because there may be an underlying dry eye issue that is exacerbated by the dry winter air. We may need to address that underlying issue to get your symptoms under control.

Watery Eyes are Dry Eye? That doesn’t make sense!

tears on faceWhen patients present to the office with a complaint of watering eyes, it’s an interesting conversation to have to explain to that person. “Well, your eyes are watering because they’re dry!”

Because they think, how could my eyes be dry? I have these tears just rolling down onto my cheek!

The problem is that your tears are composed of many layers of lipids and oils and water essentially. Often, when a patient is experiencing watering eyes, it’s because they’re deficient in the oil layer of the tear film.

They don’t have the component of their tears that keeps that tear on the eyeball. So, their tears are evaporating very quickly and the eye is trying to overcompensate by producing more and more of the water portion of the tears, but because they don’t have the oil layer in place, the tears don’t stay on the eye and they just roll right down onto the cheek.

This is really common. We see this often in a lot of dry eye patients. The treatment in this situation is to reinstate that oil layer, and when we do that, patients get a resolution of the tearing.

Patients can also experience excessive eye-watering if the system that drains the tears down into the nasolacrimal system becomes clogged. This happens occasionally as well, and that’s a relatively easy fix we do in the office. We simply flush out that nasolacrimal duct and now the tears can drain again. The patient gets relief from the excessive watering

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 The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center 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.

 

The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City and Randallstown, throughout Maryland.

 


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What’s included in a dry eye examination at Eyesymmetry Vision Center?

eye examWhen a patient comes to the office for a dry eye examination, they can expect to see photographs and videos of their eye and talk about their eyes in ways they’ve likely never done before. We really look at the whole person and what is contributing to the dry eye disease. We start with an extensive history including any systemic conditions the patient may have, medications they’re on, their work environment, and even things like history of contact lens wear or makeup use. Many, many things contribute to dry eye disease.

We try to do a thorough evaluation of the person as a whole to figure out what is the contributing factor here. Then we do a really thorough examination of the ocular surface itself. We look at the eye specifically as it relates to tear production.

I’m looking at how fast the patient’s tears evaporate as that’s one of the biggest causes of dry eye. A patient may not be producing enough oil in their tears and that causes the tears to evaporate very quickly.

We look at that oil layer using infrared photography which is a really neat tool that we have and that the patient can actually see any damage that may have already taken place within their eyelids and is contributing to the symptoms that they’re experiencing.

From these tests, we can see if the patient has enough of all those independent layers that comprise the tear film, where does the deficiency lie, and base our treatment plan around where the deficiency is. We’re also using different different stains that go in the eye that show patterns of inflammation.

Depending on stage and calls of dry eye, we see inflammation in different parts of the eye. Sometimes that’s corneal staining, inflammation and blood vessel growth on the eyelid margin, puffy red eyelids, or red eyes in general.

We’re really just looking at the eye as a whole to identify those areas of inflammation and target treatment towards those areas specifically.

 

Why are dry eye symptoms going untreated?

man rubbing eyes 1280×853I believe so many patients are allowing their dry eye symptoms to go untreated because they’ve just accepted it as a part of their day. We’ve learned to live with it and a lot of patients have learned to manage just their symptoms with over-the-counter artificial tears. When in reality those over-the-counter drops are only treating the symptoms they’re experiencing, maybe temporary relief of the burning they get when they’re in front of their computer screens, but they aren’t doing anything to address the underlying issue and the dry eye disease that’s at play.

They might just blame their symptoms on their computer. Yes, computer usage contributes to the problem, but there are things that we can do to counteract those symptoms and counteract the progressive nature of dry eye disease. Honestly, a lot of patients might just not know what to do to treat their dry eye.

They may not know the next step to take. They might not be aware that it’s something that they can go see a doctor for specifically. They may have even seen an optometrist who just told them to use artificial tears. They may think that they’re doing all that they can do to manage their symptoms. When in fact, now we have technology and advancements that allow us to treat dry eyes on a deeper level.

How to Get Rid of Eyelash Mites

How to Get Rid of Eyelash Mites 640What if we told you that there are tiny critters living on your face? Would you believe it?

The truth is that just about every person on earth has Demodex mites living in their facial pores.

But before you run to the bathroom sink and start scrubbing your cheeks, read on to learn what these microscopic mites are, and how they can affect your eyes.

What are Demodex Mites?

Demodex mites are tiny 8-legged arachnids that make their home in the pores and hair follicles of your face. Fortunately, they’re too small to see with the naked eye, measuring only 0.4 mm long.

There are 2 types of Demodex mites: Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. Both types can be found all over the face, but Demodex folliculorum mites tend to concentrate around the eyelash area.

Demodex mites live inside hair follicles, where they feed on dead skin cells and oily sebum that is secreted onto the hair shaft. That’s why they’re found in higher numbers around greasier areas of the body, like the eyes and nose.

The mites come out of the hair follicle at night to mate and then return in the morning. For this reason, symptoms of a Demodex infestation may be worse in the morning.

Demodex mites can be transferred from one host to another through facial skin or hair contact. They can also be introduced to a new host through shared makeup and cosmetics.

Having a small amount of Demodex mites seems to be harmless, but an overgrowth of mites — called “demodicosis” — can cause a host of symptoms affecting the eyes and other areas of the face. A Demodex infestation can also exacerbate pre-existing skin conditions like rosacea and acne.

How Can Demodex Mites Affect Your Eyes?

Too many Demodex mites can cause uncomfortable symptoms that may include:

  • Itchy or burning eyes, especially in the morning
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Crusty eyes
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred or decreased vision
  • Falling eyelashes
  • Infected eyes

If you experience a yellowish discharge on your eyelashes mainly in the mornings, this could be a sign of a Demodex mite infestation.

Severe cases of demodicosis can lead to blepharitis — an inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis often leads to an inflammation of the cornea called keratitis, a serious condition that can lead to blindness if left untreated.

Risk Factors For Demodicosis

You’re more likely to have a Demodex mite outbreak if you:

  • Have oily skin
  • Wear makeup
  • Sleep overnight without properly removing makeup
  • Have poor personal hygiene

Some pre-existing conditions that increase the possibility of a Demodex outbreak include:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Alopecia
  • Inflammatory acne
  • Dermatitis

Your Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help

The good news is that Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O. can provide safe and effective treatment for your demodicosis.

Because Demodex mites are so small, they’re impossible to diagnose on your own. Only a comprehensive eye exam can determine the source of your symptoms.

Treatment for a Demodex mite infestation typically involves a medicated ointment that can prevent the mites from reproducing. In severe cases, oral medication may be prescribed. Your eye doctor may also manually clean the margins of your eyelids or recommend over-the-counter products that can help soothe irritation and promote healing.

If you suspect you have demodicosis or experience any of the symptoms listed above, contact The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center to schedule an eye exam.

The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City, Randallstown, and throughout Maryland.

 


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Call Us 410-587-0099

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