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Recognizing Dry Eye In Older Adults

Dry eyes in older adults are more common than in the general population. When we age, we tend to produce fewer tears. Other factors may include side effects of medications, certain medical conditions, and a lifetime of exposure to dry or windy environments. Let's explore these factors and ways to prevent symptoms.


The risk for age-related dry eyes increases as soon as fifty years old. Be sure to take extra steps to stay hydrated throughout the day. Let's look at a simple math formula to gauge how much water to drink each day. Note a person's weight in pounds, cut that number in half, and change it to ounces. For example, if someone weighs 160 pounds, half of that is 80, and then change that to ounces. So a 160-pound person should drink about 80 ounces of fluids per day. That's 10 cups of water! That number will vary depending on food choices, weather, and other fluctuations in lifestyle and habits.


Taking small sips of water is more effective than gulping. Warm water (98.6 degrees) hydrates more than cold fluids, coffee, tea, sodas, juices, or other flavored beverages. Develop a strategy to keep track of how much you drink while factoring in food choices and how you eat. Eating moist foods such as rice, soups, leafy greens, and foods high in vitamin A or steamed will benefit your fluids more than grilled, fried, dry, baked, or too much alcohol. You won't need to drink as much water if you eat moister food.


Doing a regular inventory of your interior environments. Use dehumidifiers if it is too try indoors, especially if you are battling dry or windy conditions outside, including frequent air travel. Try closing your eyes to rest them in dry environments or supplement them with artificial tears. If the wind is an issue, consider wearing wrap-around glasses.


Some medications have side effects that can affect the eyes. These may include over-the-counter painkillers, anti-depressive medications, antihistamines, hormone replacements, beta-blockers, and more. Check your labels to be sure. Also, certain medical conditions can decrease tear production and increase tear evaporation. These include certain autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren's, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Hormonal changes such as menopause can be a factor, as well as allergies, Parkinson's, and sarcoidosis.


Many factors could be causing you to have dry, red, itchy, or frequently tearful eyes. Suppose you don't see adequate improvement from making lifestyle changes. In that case, it's a good idea to have an eye examination to know for sure.

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