Have you ever had an uncomfortable feeling in your eyes? More specifically, do your eyes feel scratchy or gritty – as if something is stuck on your eyeball? If so, then you might be suffering from dry eyes. While these symptoms might sound mild, they can lead to severe vision problems if left unchecked.
This guide is designed to help you protect your eyes and remedy dry eyes. But how? Optimal eye health starts with understanding the causes of the health condition, diagnosis, and available treatments.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Healthy eyes produce a steady stream of tears to lubricate the tissues. This mechanism protects the eyes from elements such as dust, small particles, wind, and cold. So when there is an imbalance in tear composition or tear production decreases, dry eyes occur. Below are some of the risk factors that might lead to chronic dry eyes:
- Screen Time: Believe it or not, your smartphone, laptop, or television might be responsible for your dry eyes. While consciously staring at your screen, you’ll notice that you blink less than usual. This decreases the frequency of eye moisturization, increasing the risk of dry eyes.
- Environmental Factors: Are you exposed to smoke, wind, or dry environments? Or do you experience seasonal allergies? These environmental conditions contribute to dry eyes.
- Infections and Diseases: Some health problems either increase your risk of dry eyes or they are accompanied by the eye problem. Common diseases such as thyroid disorders, arthritis, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions are associated with dry eyes.
- Medication: Birth control pills, antidepressants, decongestants, and antihistamines could increase your susceptibility to dry eyes.
- Age: Unfortunately, our tear glands deteriorate with age. People above the age of 50 often experience a decrease in tear production.
- Gender: According to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, women are at a higher risk of suffering from chronic dry eyes, especially after menopause.
- Preventative Measures: What is the cause of the eye problem? If your dry eyes are associated with an underlying disease, an eye care professional may refer you to a specialist.
- Pharmaceutical medication: Common pharmaceutical treatments include tear -stimulating drugs, anti-inflammatories, or artificial tears to help lubricate the eyes.
- Lifestyle Changes: Avoiding exposure to smoky, windy, and dry environments might reduce the severity of dry eyes. It is also important to minimize stress on the eyes by taking some time off your screen to rest.
- Surgery: If the condition is severe or the symptoms persist, an optometrist may recommend surgery.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – Alternative Treatment for Dry Eyes
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is necessary to focus on both the visible and underlying symptoms of a health problem. An imbalance of energy (Qi) in one body part might translate into a symptom in another body part. In particular, dry eyes is a sign that there is an imbalance in an internal organ such as the large intestine.
Although the principles of TCM are passed on through generations, recent scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of the treatment. Consider these two studies summarized below:
- A multicenter randomized study by a group of Korean scientists concluded that “Acupuncture may have benefits on the mid-term outcomes related to dry eye syndrome compared with artificial tears.” Acupuncture was shown to have long-term benefits in comparison to conventional treatments.
- Another study published in the journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine analyzed the findings of seven scientific articles. Similarly to the first study, the authors concluded that “Acupuncture therapy is more effective than qrtificial tears for dry eye syndrome“.
Centre of Balance Hamilton – How Can an Acupuncturist Help?
So how do TCM and acupuncture treat dry eyes? When you visit a credible acupuncture clinic like Centre of Balance in Hamilton, a qualified acupuncturist will conduct tests to determine the underlying cause (internal organ imbalances) of your dry eyes. They may also collect historical information on your physical, mental, and even emotional health. This helps facilitate holistic healing.
The next step involves carefully inserting needles on specific points (acupoints) that coincide with the imbalance. An acupuncturist will focus on both the internal imbalance and the external symptoms of the dry eyes. Acupuncture treatment helps stimulate tear glands, increasing oil production safely and effectively. You can read more on how to improve your eye health here, or visit our clinic at 27F Whatawhata Road, Dinsdale, Hamilton 3204, New Zealand.
Kim, T. H., Kang, J. W., Kim, K. H., Kang, K. W., Shin, M. S., Jung, S. Y., … & Lee, S. D. (2012). Acupuncture for the treatment of dry eye: a multicenter randomised controlled trial with active comparison intervention (artificial teardrops). PLoS One, 7(5), e36638.
Yang, L., Yang, Z., Yu, H., & Song, H. (2015). Acupuncture therapy is more effective than artificial tears for dry eye syndrome: evidence based on a meta-analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015.
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