I’m a night owl. 

No, I am not out tripping the light fantastic every evening. I am on the couch enjoying some of my favorite shows long after Grandpa has gone to bed. It is a quiet time for me to enjoy programs like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “NCIS Los Angeles,” which are not on his list of shows that he enjoys or that we enjoy together. I record them and binge a bit until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer and go to bed. 

Lately, I have noticed that my eyes get even more tired than the rest of me, and it almost feels like sand or something else is making them feel gritty. It also feels like there is something in my eyes causing slight blurriness. The light from the television is annoying when the brightness goes up and I find myself closing one eye at a time as the evening wears on. I had heard of dry eyes and the related symptoms, so, of course, it piqued my interest. I started my internet research to see what causes this and what can be done to correct it. After reading the symptoms, I realized that I probably had some level of dry eyes.

There are several reasons for this condition including our natural aging process, and for women it can be stirred up during or after menopause. Yes ladies, yet another charming addition to the already annoying menopausal process. Certain medications like the antihistamines can cause issues along with some diseases that affect your ability to make tears. These include, but are not limited to rheumatoid arthritis and certain vascular conditions. The heater and air conditioner in your home can be also be factors in the drying your tear flow.

Reflex tearing is another condition created when there is an overabundance of tears. Confusing as this is, it happens when the lack of moisture irritates your eye and a distress signal is sent via your nervous system for more eye lubrication. Your body reacts by sending a flood of tears to compensate for the dryness. Mostly water, they don’t act like normal tears, which consist of water for moisture, oils for lubrication, mucus for even spreading, antibodies and protein to help deter infection. The lack of these ingredients can spark some eye infections and create discomfort.

One of my kids sleeps with his eyes partially open. It is kind of interesting to watch because he is sound asleep, but he is also looking right at you. Although it seems a bit funny to see, the inability to fully close your eyes while sleeping can contribute to dry eyes. 

There are a number of options. Ask your eye doctor what is right for you. It could be as simple as over-the-counter eye drops or ointments that help create your natural tears. This is most common. No product works for everyone, so you might have to try a few to find the one that’s right for you if that is what your ophthalmologist suggests. Be sure to also ask your pharmacist whom, as my readers all know, I rely on for a second opinion in a lot of cases. If this becomes a chronic problem, you need to use the drops even when your eyes feel fine or they won’t stay wet enough. If your eyes tend to get very dry while you sleep and you wake up with that gritty feeling, you may try the thicker ointments at night coupled with some kind of eye goggles or sleep mask to keep the moisture in. 

If the symptoms are more severe or do not improve with drops, be sure to consult your eye doctor again and see if a more aggressive treatment is needed. Sometimes the ducts are clogged and will need to be opened. Don’t try this yourself. Let the doctor do it for you. Your eyes are very important and their health is imperative. I take a lot of vitamins and one of them is specifically for good eye health. It is not the answer to dry eyes, but I can only hope it helps in some small way. I plan on contacting my ophthalmologist to have him check to make sure I am keeping them healthy and lubricated correctly. Grandpa knows I don’t want to miss out on any of my favorite shows. 

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