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Risk Of Overusing Eye Drops

If you find yourself constantly reaching for eye drops, it’s time to start looking into the bigger issue: Why do you need them so often? While they may provide a quick and satisfying fix for irritated or itchy eyes, they don’t focus on what might be causing the irritation to begin with.

Two signs that you’re overusing eye drops: you often exceed the daily recommended dose and/or you view eye drops as a cure rather than a temporary treatment.

Risks of Overusing Eye Drops

When overusing eye drops you can run the risk of:

  • Washing away your natural tears. Artificial tears feel great as they lubricate your eyes and help with insufficient tear production. But overuse can literally wash away the natural moisturizers and your natural tears that protect your eyes.
  • Rebounding. As the effects of the eye drops subside or upon discontinuation of the drops, the original eye symptoms may return stronger than before. This is known as eye rebounding. Eye drops clamp down on the blood vessels in the eye to stop itchiness, which means your sclera isn’t getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. When you stop using eye drops, or their effects wear off, your eyes may work in overdrive to deliver oxygen to those vessels.
  • Masking a more serious problem. Addressing the symptoms of red, itchy eyes rather than the cause could be more serious than you think.

Conditions That Eye Drops Could Be Masking

Red, itchy eyes are a symptom of several conditions, including:

  • Blepharitis – Red and inflamed eyelids, caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, gland dysfunction, parasites, or dry eye, all of which require treatment beyond over-the-counter eye drops.
  • Eye trauma – Scratching or rubbing your eye can cause blood vessels to break, making the eye itchy and red. Some more serious traumas will require prescription eye drops or surgery.
  • Eye strain – Focusing on work all day and night can cause irritated, tired, and strained eyes.
  • Foreign objects – An eyelash, dust, or something worse could be in your eye. If you have long-term issues with itchy or dry eyes, make sure a foreign body isn’t the culprit.
  • Allergies – Allergies to the environment or pets can cause dry, itchy eyes.
  • Pink eye – A bacterial or viral eye infection, also called conjunctivitis, can cause burning, swelling, and itchiness.
  • Dry eye syndrome – Irritation, redness and itchiness are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. In severe cases, DES can damage the cornea.

Regardless of why you often use eye drops, the only way to get to the root cause of your symptoms is a thorough eye exam. Don’t cover up the symptoms with eye drops.

If you’re suffering from irritated, dry eyes that haven’t resolved on their own, contact Roggy Eye Clinic in Coralville. We can help you find the long-lasting relief you’ve been looking for.

At Roggy Eye Clinic, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 319-569-1936 or book an appointment online to see one of our Coralville eye doctors.

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Frequently Asked Questions with Sheri Roggy O.D.

Q: What are symptoms of dry eye syndrome ?

  • A: Irritation, redness and itchiness are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. In severe cases, DES can damage the cornea.

Q: Are OTC eye drops safe ?

  • A: Eye drops may provide relief. But don’t overuse them. Overuse can cause more harm than good. Find out what happens when you overuse those relieving eye drops.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Coralville, Iowa. Visit Roggy Eye Clinic for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that some eye conditions are associated with sleep apnea? According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and Health Canada reports similar prevalence. It’s a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often multiple times per night — while sleeping.

If you have sleep apnea: it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished, you’re more likely to have ocular irritation, you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and you’re at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, your airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat. This causes apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It’s twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease. 

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences. 

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma. 

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to get their eyes checked on a regular basis for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome 

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO. 

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Doc

Get eye exams regularly to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At Roggy Eye Clinic in Coralville we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.