Dealing with Dry Eye

dry eyes Portland, ORDry eye sounds so innocuous, especially during our Portland winters. After all, indoors can be a desert thanks to forced heat systems. So your eyes are a little dry and itchy. It’s just the dry furnace air, right? Wrong. While the dry eye is a common condition, it needs to be properly diagnosed and treated by the team at The Eye Clinic before it can impact your vision.

What is a dry eye?

Dry eye is a condition where a person’s eyes are insufficiently lubricated, leading to itching, redness, and pain. There are various reasons a person can develop dry eye, but it often comes down to the tears produced or not produced.

What causes dry eye?

We never give the moisture in our eyes a second of thought, but our tear ducts are responsible for their moisture. Dry eye can develop when the tear ducts are not producing a sufficient number of tears. Or the cause can be a chemical imbalance in tears themselves. Natural tears require a particular chemical balance to lubricate the eyes efficiently.

As we get older, we’re more prone to dry eye. It also results from taking certain medications, certain medical conditions, or injury. Women tend to get dry eye more than men due to the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and menopause. Oral contraceptives can also lead to inconsistent tear ingredients.

These are other causes of dry eye:

  • Antihistamines, decongestants, and blood pressure medications
  • Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind, and excessive sun
  • Eye injury
  • Long-term contact lens use
  • Eye or eyelid surgery
  • Conjunctivitis or keratitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disease


Dry eye typically occurs in both eyes. While the symptoms may seem somewhat benign, they merit your attention. Dry eye can damage eye tissues, leaving tiny abrasions on the surface that can impair your vision.

The symptoms include:

  • Stinging, burning, or scratchiness
  • Eye fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Excessive tearing
  • Blurry vision

Treating dry eye

Some practitioners aren’t familiar with dry eye, and may simply assume it’s a result of the dry indoor winter air or even an allergy. But at The Eye Clinic, we see dry eye every day, so we know how to diagnose and treat it.

Treatment can be as simple as using artificial tears until environmental conditions change or as involved as insertion of punctual plugs at the corner of each eye to limit tear drainage.

If you have the stinging, burning, and other symptoms of dry eye, it’s probably not due to winter heating. Call the team at The Eye Clinic at either our St. Vincent (503-297-4718) or downtown locations (503-228-6681) and let’s take a look.

Posted in: Dry Eyes

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