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  • Dr. Sandra Chiu

Three Dry Eye Myths — Busted!

Dry eye is quite common in Canada — around 30 percent of the nation’s residents have experienced symptoms associated with it. However, there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding this condition, which can result in a delay in diagnosis and treatment, or even make symptoms worse.

Here, I’m sharing three common dry eye myths and the truths behind them.

Myth #1: I only need to use eye drops when my dry eyes are painful.

False! If you have been advised to use drops to help relieve your dry eye symptoms, they’ll probably work best when they are used before symptoms occur. Think of it like hydration: Just as you shouldn’t wait until you get thirsty to drink water, you also shouldn’t wait until your eyes burn and itch to use the drops. If you have trouble remembering, set alarms on your phone to remind you.

Unsure how often to use them? I’m happy to give you personalized advice during your eye exam. Myth #2: If my eyes are tearing up, then I can’t have dry eye.

If your eyes are constantly wet, then the idea of having dry eye can seem impossible. But teary, watery eyes can actually be a symptom of dry eye! When your eyes dry out, they become itchy and irritated. This causes your lacrimal glands, located above your eye sockets, to produce so many tears that your eyes can’t drain them quickly enough. The result? Eyes that become even more irritated than they were before. If this sounds familiar, then it’s possible you have dry eye.

Myth #3: I can use drops like Visine to treat my dry eye symptoms.

This is a common mistake!

Many people believe that these over-the-counter drops are beneficial because they remove redness, which is often seen in people with dry eye. The active ingredient in Visine and similar products is a substance called tetrahydrozoline, which works by constricting blood vessels in the eye. This disrupts the flow of oxygen to your eyes. When the effects of the drops wear off, your eye’s oxygen-starved blood vessels will often open up even more than they did before — a condition known as “rebound redness.”

To prevent this, ditch the Visine and try lubricating drops that are specially designed for dry eye.

If redness is a concern, try Lumify; it uses small amounts of an ingredient called brimonidine, which doesn’t restrict oxygen like Visine and can be purchased over the counter at my office.

As an experienced eye care professional, I can provide dry eye diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect that you may have dry eye, reach out for an appointment at (519) 832-5000.

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