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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 Family Eyecare Center of Optometry 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. Harold Ashcraft

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 Family Eyecare Center of Optometry to find out what dry eye treatments are available to give your eyes relief.



Family Eyecare Center of Optometry serves patients from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, and Playa Del Rey, all throughout California.

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3 Reasons Women Are More Likely Than Men To Develop Dry Eye

3 Reasons Women Are More Likely Than Men To Develop Dry Eye 640Did you know that women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of dry eye syndrome (DES)? In fact, women represent about 6 out of 10 diagnosed cases of DES worldwide. This is due to several factors, 3 of which we’ll outline below.

If you aren’t familiar with DES, this eye condition refers to a chronic lack of ocular moisture that causes uncomfortable symptoms like red, burning, itchy, watery eyes. Left untreated, DES can damage the cornea.

Usually, DES is caused by insufficient tears or poor quality tears, but can also be precipitated by allergies, environmental factors, hormones and even certain medications. If you or anyone in your family suffers from DES, speak with Dr. Harold Ashcraft at Family Eyecare Center of Optometry, who can help ease your dry eye symptoms

3 Reasons Why Women Are Prone to Dry Eye Syndrome

1. Cosmetic Use

Makeup, skincare items, and hair styling products can all drastically effect onyour eyes. Women who wear makeup—especially eye makeup like mascara and eyeliner—are more likely to develop dry eye symptoms due to their sometimes irritating contents. Makeup and other cosmetics may include chemicals that, when in contact with the eye, can reduce the eye’s tear film and cause tears to evaporate too quickly.

Eyeliner and mascara may also block the tiny oil-secreting glands on the margins of the eyelids. Oil is an essential component of tears, as it reduces eye-eyelid friction and lessens tear evaporation.

We aren’t telling you to ditch your glam kit and go au naturel, but when you do wear makeup, make sure to give your eyes some extra TLC. Try to avoid applying makeup to the inner portion of the lash line, where it can clog your oil glands or irritate your eyes. And make sure to thoroughly remove your eye makeup before going to sleep, as sleeping with eye makeup can also lead to eye irritation and even infection.

2. Hormonal Changes

From puberty to pregnancy and menopause, women’s hormones are constantly changing. All those surges and dips in estrogen can affect your eyes, especially when it comes to dry eye syndrome. Some women even experience dry eyes at certain times of the month, when estrogen levels rise.

Women also produce androgens, also known as “male hormones,” which affect the quality of the tear film. In fact, both men and women who have low androgens may suffer from DES.

Women over the age of 50 who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at a heightened risk of developing dry eye symptoms. About 4 out of 10 post-menopausal women in North America use HRT to manage symptoms of menopause. Women increase their chances of developing DES by 70% when using estrogen alone for HRT, and by 29% when estrogen and progesterone are used together, compared to women who don’t use HRT.

3. Certain Medications

Because women are more likely than men to take both prescription and over-the-counter medications, they are also more prone to experience adverse effects from those medications. The common medications that often cause or exacerbate symptoms of DES include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Acne medications
  • Sleeping pills
  • Birth control pills
  • Blood pressure medications

DES can be uncomfortable at the very least, and debilitating at its worst. The good news is that you can get the relief you seek! At Family Eyecare Center of Optometry, we provide long-lasting relief to patients suffering from dry eye syndrome by targeting the root of the problem.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dry eyes, call Family Eyecare Center of Optometry today.

Family Eyecare Center of Optometry provides dry eye relief to patients from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and throughout California.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Our Dry Eye Doctor in Los Angeles

Q: Can I treat my dry eye symptoms at home?

  • A: While there are over-the-counter options available at your local drugstore, you should seek treatment from a dry eye optometrist for the most effective and long-lasting results. Generic dry eye remedies may not target the underlying source of your specific problem.

Q: Can women with dry eye syndrome still wear eye makeup?

  • A: Women with moderate-to-severe DES may find conventional makeup irritating. Try choosing makeup that is hypoallergenic, cream-based (instead of powder), and has a low water content. Thorough makeup removal is crucial for everyone— all the more so for those suffering from DES. So make sure you remove every bit of eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara before bed.


 

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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 Family Eyecare Center of Optometry 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.

 

Family Eyecare Center of Optometry serves patients from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo and Playa Del Rey, throughout California.

 

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Call Us 310-620-6603

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 Dr. Harold Ashcraft 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 Family Eyecare Center of Optometry to schedule an eye exam.

Family Eyecare Center of Optometry serves patients from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and throughout California.

 

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How Warm Compresses Can Relieve Dry Eye

protect your eyes 640x350What Is Dry Eye?

Our tears are made up of water and oil layers. Dry eye (also known as dry eye syndrome) occurs when the eyelids’ meibomian glands do not secrete enough natural oil into the tears. This causes the eyes to become dry, itchy, red, and painful. Dry eye can also occur when not enough tears are produced. Environmental conditions like dry or windy air, and staring at a screen or book for a long time, can also dry out your eyes.

What You Can Do About Dry Eye

One of the best ways to make dry, irritated eyes feel refreshed is with a warm compress. A warm compress will open the oil glands and soften oil blockages, allowing oil to flow into the tears. Wet a clean washcloth or place it in a microwave for 20 seconds. Touch it to your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot, then place the compress on your closed eyelids for a few minutes while tilting your head back or reclining. When the compress cools, reheat and repeat.

Washcloths often do not stay warm enough for long enough to help that much. We have commercial "eye spa pads" that are better because they hold the concentrated heat better.

Compresses slow the evaporation of tears. Their warm moisture provides relief by stabilizing the eyes’ tear film and improving the meibomian glands’ production of oil. With your eyes now hydrated and lubricated, they can also expel bacteria more efficiently.

Certain prescription eye drops also address dry eye, and steroids can provide relief. Others provide additional lubrication. Please consult with Dr. Harold Ashcraft, who can recommend or prescribe the best drops for your eyes.

Other home remedies include:

  • An air filter to eliminate irritants
  • A humidifier to increase moisture in the air and decrease evaporation of your tears
  • Drinking water to stay hydrated
  • Wearing sunglasses to deflect ultraviolet rays and wind that dry the eyes

Special Considerations for Dry Eye Treatment:

  • Don’t make the compresses or washcloths too hot.
  • Use a different compress for each eye to prevent spreading an infection between the eyes.
  • We recommend lightly cleaning with a swab or cloth, then wetting and wiping your eyelids several times each day. Doing so can prevent bacteria from entering your eyes.

If you are experiencing dry eye, please bring it to our attention. Untreated, dry eye can sometimes cause corneal abrasions or ulcers, inflammation, and even vision impairment.

 

 

At Family Eyecare Center of Optometry, Dr. Harold Ashcraft will treat patients with dry eye from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and throughout California.

References:

 


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Does Your Job Place You at a Higher Risk For Dry Eye?

Higher Risk For Dry Eye 640Dry eye symptoms such as red, watery, stinging eyes can negatively affect your work. But could your work environment actually be causing or exacerbating your symptoms? Recent research shows that where you work can heighten your risk of developing dry, irritated eyes. 

Which Work Environments Increase Your Risk of Developing Dry Eye Symptoms?

Offices

Several factors appear to contribute to dry eyes. In fact, a survey of American and European office employees found that a third suffered from dry eye symptoms. 

Research has shown that prolonged physical inactivity and staring at computer monitors increases a person’s susceptibility to developing dry eye syndrome. 

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 blinking more, especially while using the computer and reading.  

The humidity level of the air in the office also plays a role. Overuse of air conditioning and heating can cause the air to become dry, increasing the rate of tear evaporation. Having insufficient tears is a leading cause of dry eye symptoms. If you find that your work environment is too dry, try using a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air. 

The Great Outdoors

Certain outdoor jobs can expose the eyes to eye-drying elements like wind, debris, and direct sunlight. Wind and heat can cause the eye’s tear film to prematurely evaporate, leaving the eye unprotected and susceptible to dryness. 

Other factors that contribute to dry eye syndrome include pollution and exposure to harmful UV rays. Outdoor workers such as construction workers, farmers, and lifeguards should always use protective eyewear while working.

How Your Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help

Dry eye symptoms can range from mildly bothersome to debilitating. A comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Harold Ashcraft will determine the underlying cause of your symptoms so the most effective treatment can be offered. 

Relief from dry eye symptoms extends far beyond the options available at the drugstore. If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms of any degree, contact Family Eyecare Center of Optometry to discover how you can achieve long-lasting relief. We look forward to hearing from you. 

 

Family Eyecare Center of Optometry serves patients from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and throughout California. 


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Managing Dry Eye Symptoms While Enjoying Outdoors

couple on a field of flowers 640As the weather gets warmer and Covid-19 restrictions gradually ease, many people want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. But for those with chronic dry eye syndrome, uncomfortable symptoms may deter them from enjoying Mother Nature. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Grittiness
  • Watery eyes
  • Irritated or burning eyes
  • Blurred vision

While the only sure way to diagnose and treat your eye condition is having an eye exam with Dr. Harold Ashcraft, the following tips may offer some relief until your next appointment — especially while you’re spending time in the open air.

Bring Along a Water Bottle

A dehydrated body can mean dehydrated eyes. Drinking plenty of water can help your eyes produce the healthy amount of tears needed to maintain lubrication. Even if you are spending time in a humid environment, be sure to drink water or other hydrating fluids. Try to avoid alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks, as they can be dehydrating and exacerbate dry eye symptoms.

Pack Some Lubricating Artificial Tear Eye Drops

One of the main causes of dry eye syndrome is insufficient or poor quality tears. Lubricating eye drops, also known as artificial tears, can compensate for the lack of tears and offer temporary relief. The drops’ tiny containers make them travel-friendly and perfect for almost any outdoor activity. There are many kinds of eye drops on the market, but Dr. Harold Ashcraft can recommend or prescribe the most suitable type for your eyes.

Always Wear Protective Eyewear

Exposure to the elements can leave your eyes feeling dry and uncomfortable. Wearing protective eyewear, such as sports goggles or wrap-around sunglasses, can protect your eyes from harsh winds, debris in the air, and sunlight. Even a light breeze can strip the eyes of their protective tear film and accelerate the rate of evaporation.

Visit Dr. Ashcraft for Dry Eye Relief

While the above recommendations can provide temporary relief, a dry eye evaluation with Dr. Harold Ashcraft can help identify and treat the underlying cause of your symptoms. Dr. Harold Ashcraft will recommend the latest and most effective dry eye treatments for long-lasting relief and optimal comfort. If you or a loved one is suffering from dry eye syndrome, call Family Eyecare Center of Optometry to schedule your consultation today.

Family Eyecare Center of Optometry serves patients from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and throughout California.


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Ever Wonder What Causes Eye Twitching?

Dry Eye Africam American Man 640×350Many of us have experienced an involuntary eyelid spasm but didn’t give it much thought. These eyelid spasms, or twitches, are a repetitive and involuntary spasm of the muscles in the eyelids. The twitch most frequently occurs in the upper eyelid, but can occasionally occur in both upper and lower eyelids.

The twitch sensation is generally painless and harmless. It can be caused by several factors and rarely indicates a more serious underlying condition. One condition, however, that can contribute to eyelid twitching is dry eye syndrome (DES). Below, we’ll briefly explain DES and how it can trigger eyelid twitching.

What Is DES and Do You Have It?

Dry eye syndrome is characterized by the chronic lack of sufficient ocular lubrication and can be caused by allergies, irritants, and insufficient or poor quality tears. Some symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Grittiness
  • Stinging or burning sensation

If you suspect you have DES or experience any of the above symptoms, speak with Dr. Harold Ashcraft about finding relief and regaining the quality of life you seek.

How Is Eyelid Twitching Related To DES?

When the eyes lack lubrication, the nervous system compensates by increasing the eyes’ blink rate to try and refresh the tear film. If the brain sends too many signals to increase the blink rate, the eyelid’s muscles may begin to twitch due to the overload of signals fired from the brain. Eventually, as the eyelid muscles become more fatigued from the excess blinking, twitching becomes more noticeable and irritating.

What Can Be Done To Ease The Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome and Reduce Twitching?

Eyelid twitching can be bothersome and can even interfere with performing daily tasks. Though twitching episodes usually subside after a minute or two, there are some steps you can take to shorten their duration or eliminate them altogether.

Try using lubricating eye drops to bring some moisture back to your eyes, thus reducing the signals sent to the nervous system to increase the blink rate. Dr. Harold Ashcraft can recommend which over-the-counter drops best suit your eyes’ needs, or prescribe more potent eye drops.

Try gently massaging your closed upper eyelids to suppress the twitching when it occurs. The light pressure can help relax the surrounding muscles. You can also apply a warm eye compress when the lid is twitching or whenever your eyes feel irritated.

Additionally, if you experience twitching or cramping in other muscles, such as in your legs, taking some magnesium may help reduce the frequency of the spasms.

How We Can Help You

Mild eyelid spasms and twitches are generally not something to be concerned about, unless they are prolonged, frequent, or distract you from your normal routine. At Family Eyecare Center of Optometry, we aim to provide you with relief from any dry eye symptoms using the latest treatments available. If you or a loved one suffer from eye twitches or any other DES symptoms, let us help you manage your ocular condition for a lifetime of clear and comfortable vision.

Family Eyecare Center of Optometry provides dry eye relief and other services to patients from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and California.

 

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Your Eyes Can’t Focus? It Could Be Dry Eye!

photo of woman using laptopYou have been working on a report for weeks and your deadline is tomorrow morning. It’s the end of a long day at the office, and you need to check the numbers one more time. When you do, the figures on the spreadsheet appear blurry, and you just can’t get your eyes to focus.

But why? You recently had your eyes examined and the optometrist assured you that your current contact lens prescription is fine. What could be wrong with your eyes?

Why Can’t Your Eyes Focus?

Many patients come to us at Family Eyecare Center of Optometry with similar complaints about eye focus problems. After examining their eyes, we often diagnose them with dry eye syndrome.

When working long hours on the computer or spending a significant amount of time staring at a mobile phone screen, the eye’s blink rate decreases significantly, causing the protective tear film that covers the eye to evaporate faster. To retain visual acuity, the tear film needs to spread smoothly and evenly over the eye surface. Insufficient fluid makes this impossible.

What is Dry Eye?

With people spending more and more hours on digital devices, the increasing prevalence of dry eye is not surprising. As mentioned earlier, dry eye occurs when tears don’t provide sufficient lubrication to the eye or are of poor quality.

Mild dry eye can affect up to 50% of the adult population in the USA, with more than 16 million adults suffering from severe dry eye.

Dry eye can be caused by infrequent blinking, hot and dry air, certain medical conditions, medications, eyelid problems, or damaged tear glands. Age is another factor, as tear production decreases with age. Long-term use of contact lenses is another possible cause. Furthermore, simply being exposed to today’s polluted air can make your eyes feel very dry.

Additional symptoms of dry eye include redness of the eyes, itchy eyes, a burning sensation in the eyes, eye fatigue, and increased sensitivity to light.

What Do Tears Have to Do With Eye Focus?

Poor tear quality can also cause blurry vision. Tears are a mixture of water, fatty oils, and mucus. If the balance is off between these three essential layers, the tears will no longer produce the necessary smooth cover over the front of the eye. Even though your eyes focus perfectly well, the uneven film of tears will distort your vision, and the numbers on your spreadsheet will appear blurry.

When your eyes can’t focus, it could be dry eye from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

How to Treat Dry Eye

Artificial tears can provide relief for mild dry eye. Make sure to use only preservative-free drops. Consult Dr. Harold Ashcraft to get more information on the ideal treatment for your dry eyes.

We can run simple diagnostic tests to determine the cause of dry eye and evaluate your tear quality. If you wear contact lenses, the optometrist can recommend different types of lenses made from materials that retain more moisture.

Schedule an eye exam with Dr. Harold Ashcraft at Family Eyecare Center of Optometry today and talk to us about your focusing issues and dry eye concerns.

Visit our practice if you are from Los Angeles, Westchester, El Segundo, Playa Del Rey, and throughout California.


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Call Us 310-620-6603

How Tears Do More Than Prevent Dry Eye

tearsTears literally enable us to see. They lubricate our eyeballs and eyelids, thus preventing our eyes from dehydrating. They also provide a smooth surface for refracting light, supply oxygen, and are a vital component of the ocular defense system that protects against a range of pathogens. Below we'll delve into the composition and types of tears, and further explain why they are so beneficial to our physical and emotional well-being.

The 3 Layer Structure of Tears

Tears are made up of three layers: lipids, aqueous and mucous.

The lipid layer is the outermost layer and prevents the evaporation of tears. The lipids are produced by tiny glands in the eyelids called the meibomian glands.

The aqueous layer, which is the middle layer, makes up 95% of our tears. This layer supplies nutrients to the cornea, prevents infection, and heals ocular damage. This layer is effectively made up of water and is produced by the lacrimal gland.

The mucous layer is the one closest to the eye. It coats the cornea and provides a level platform that allows for an even distribution of the tear film over the eye. This layer is produced by even smaller glands called goblet cells.

Three Types of Tears

Tears are composed of water, salts, amino acids, antibodies and lysozymes (antibacterial enzymes). However, there are several types of tears, and their composition varies. For example, the tears we shed while crying are different from the tears that flood our eyes in the presence of irritants like onions, dust or allergies.

Humans produce the following three kinds of tears:

  1. Basal - these tears are constantly at the front of the eyeball and form the liquid layer over the eyeball to keep it lubricated.
  1. Reflex - these tears appear when the eye is irritated, such as when the eyes feel gritty or when we get dust, sand or other small foreign objects in our eyes.
  1. Psychogenic - these tears are sparked by emotion. They possess a higher protein level than basal and reflex tears, which makes them thicker, causing them to stream more slowly. Psychogenic tears are made up of higher concentrations of stress hormones such as adrenocorticotropic hormone and leucine enkephalin (a natural painkiller). This suggests that emotional tears play an important role in balancing stress hormone levels.

Tears Serve the Following Functions

Prevent dryness
Tears prevent dryness by lubricating the surface of the eye. Each time we blink we spread this cushioning layer of tears across the front of the eyes.

Supply oxygen and nutrients
Oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the cornea through our tears.

Prevent infection
Not only do tears wash away foreign bodies that enter the eye, but they can also prevent infection thanks to an antibacterial property contained within tears called lysozyme. This antibacterial agent fights off the germs we pick up in our surroundings.

Heal ocular damage
Tears are made up of substances that heal damage to the surface of the eye. Damage can be caused by foreign objects and even high exposure to UV rays.

Create a smooth surface on the eye
Tears lubricate and smooth our eye’s surface, leading light to be correctly focused and enabling us to see clearly.

Remove Toxins
Emotional tears contain more toxic byproducts than reflex tears (caused by irritation), and can thus flush out many toxins and stress hormones.

Dull pain and improve mood
Crying for extended periods of time releases oxytocin and endorphins. These feel-good hormones can help diminish both physical and emotional pain. Once the endorphins are released, your body may enter a more relaxed stage, with oxytocin providing you with a sense of calm and well-being.

As you can see, tears are invaluable for clear vision, protecting your eyes, flushing out irritants, and soothing emotions.

If your eyes feel dry or tear all the time, you may not have enough tears or you may not have the right quality of tears.  Prescription dry eye treatment with Restasis or Xiidra drops may help you. There are also many choices in over the counter drops.  They are not all the same. Dr. Ashcraft can help you choose the right drops for you condition to help your eye feel much better.

If you feel that your eyes are not as comfortable or your vision is not as clear as usual, contact Dr. Harold Ashcraft at Family Eyecare Center of Optometry in Westchester, Los Angeles today.

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