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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Don't Neglect Your Eyes: Keep Em' Healthy

Illustration of Gowers' tractImage via Wikipedia

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In my 22 years experience as a trucker I have experienced dry eyes, red eyes, and tired eyes, but the one thing I want to stress in this article is that as a Truck Driver you definitely don't want to leave the health of your eyes to chance.

Dry eyes are a common source of discomfort. Dry eyes are caused by problems in tearing fluid production. Dry eyes are also a symptom of systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea or Sjogren's syndrome . Dry eyes are a common problem in the menopausal female. Dry eyes are a very common complaint among older adults. Dry eyes are also a frequent side effect of many systemic medications, medical conditions such as Thyroid disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Sjorgren’s Syndrome and Vitamin A Deficiency. Dry eyes are typically treated by a specially formulated eye drop solution that simulates real tears.

Eyelid problems that may develop as you age include an out-turning of the lids (ectropion) or an in-turning of the lids (entropion). Eyes are sensitive with much heat, burning and aching. Eyes are painful in the evening and at night, as from sand, with frequent watering. Eye drops for dry eyes are not to be confused with eye drops for red eyes. Eye redness reducers can also interfere with the eye’s natural healing process. Eyelid glands secrete oils, water and mucin as we blink.

Symptoms of dry eyes can include redness, dryness, burning, grittiness, excessive tearing, tired eyes, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light. Dry eye symptoms usually first appear in adults over the age of 40, but they can appear in individuals between the ages of 20 and 30. Dry eyes may also be stimulated by environmental aspects such as weather that irritate the eye and dry up tears. Dry Eyes can be caused by several factors which include those relating to less tears and less moisture within the eyes. Dry eye is sometimes worsened by contact lens wear or surgery. Dry eyes condition is not good for your eyes. Dry Eyes Treatments will vary depending on the level of dry eye syndrome.

Contact lenses don't cause dryness, however a patient with dry eyes will experience discomfort because their eyes can not support the presence of the contact lens. Contact lenses essentially work like a sponge in the eye. Contact lens wearers usually experience dry eyes because their contacts seems to work against moisturization. Contact lens wearers will often find eye drops effective especially if the lenses are removed prior to adding the re wetting drops. Contact lenses rely on our eyes to produce enough tears to Hydrate the contact lenses and allow them to float on a cushion of tears.

Tears are of composed of three distinctive layers: the outer, oily, lipid layer; the middle, watery, lacrimal layer; and the inner, mucous or mucin layer. Tears are necessary for the normal lubrication of your eyes and to wash away particles and foreign bodies. Tears not only wash away dust from the eyes, but also soothe the eyes, provide oxygen and nutrients to the cornea, as well as help defend against eye infections by removing microorganisms that can colonize in the eyes. Tears are essential for good eye health.

Symptoms are the best way to know if you have dry eye and it is always important to have the diagnosis confirmed by an eye doctor. Symptoms include burning, irritation, pain, foreign body sensation, blurring of vision, photo phobia, and excessive tearing. Symptoms include eyes that burn or feel gritty, itchy or sticky or blurred vision with prolonged reading or computer work. Symptoms usually develop between 45 and 55 years of age.

Treatment of dry eyes aims to restore a more normal tear film to minimize your dryness, blurred vision and discomfort. Treatment may be as simple as prescribing lubricating eye drops or supplements. Treatment for dry eye syndrome depends largely on the severity of the case and underlying causes. There are some very good prescription medications that can be used chronically with no side effects. Treatments for dry eyes may include artificial tear drops and ointments. Treatment depends largely on the source of the problem.

Patients who suffer with dry eyes are at increased risk of eye infections or infections around the eye. Patients often delay seeking care for their dry eyes until the tissue damage is at a more advanced stage. Patients with dry eyes rate their discomfort at a level similar to the way heart patients rate chest pain. Patients with dry eye symptoms should be seen and followed by an ophthalmologist for periodic complete eye exams including the Schirmer to determine tear production, and slit lamp exam to rule out corneal abrasions.

Artificial tears containing active ingredients such as carboxymethylcellulose and polyvinyl alcohol are helpful in mild cases of dry eye syndrome. Artificial tears are available over the counter, without a prescription. Artificial tears are chemical solutions similar to the eye’s natural fluids. Artificial tears can help with treating dry eye. Artificial tears are saline eye drops that lubricate the eye. Artificial tears containing active ingredients such as carboxymethylcellulose, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose, glycerin, castor oil, polyethylene glycol or polyvinyl alcohol are used in mild cases of dry eyes. Artificial tears are only a temporary solution, but they can still provide much needed emergency relief to someone needing dry eye care.

Dry eyes are one of the most common eye complaints; in fact over 10 million Americans suffer from dry eyes. Dry eyes are one of the most common problems older men and women have as they age. Dry eyes are a common source of discomfort, and usually dry eyes are a chronic problem. Dry eyes aren't comfortable and the condition will not just go away on its own. Dry eyes are a very common problem, especially in the aging population and patients with autoimmune disorders including Sjogren’s, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Remember that when you are driving down that highway, your dry eyes may be caused by more than just stress and tiredness. As a driver your eyes are to important to take chances with so get them checked. It could prolong your career and keep those miles flying by with a little less stress.
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