‘Is the air con responsible for dry eye discomfort?’

Mar 30, 2020
There are a number of factors that can contribute to dry eyes. Source: Getty.

Q: My wife has a problem with dry eyes and the doctors recommended eye drops to keep them moist. She has to use the eye drops very often, which we’re not happy about and wonder what the cause might be? My wife seems to think it’s the air conditioner and keeps turning it off in the house and car which is an absolute nightmare for us with 40-degree-plus heat. Is it likely that the air conditioner is the problem or could it be some other cause? She is 68 years old. 

Almost everyone has experienced a feeling of dry eye at some time. Dry eye can also be a long-term condition associated with great discomfort or pain and sometimes even affect your clarity of vision.

Dry eye is the result of many causes, and often due to a combination of your own eye health (for example, do you wake up with lid crusting or ‘sleep’ on your eyes? Do you have eye gland dysfunction?), overall health (do you have conditions such as acne rosacea, thyroid issues, going through hormonal changes or taking certain medications?), habits (do you smoke or have a poor diet?) and the environment (air conditioning units or heaters in winter).

It’s really important to take a step back to discuss your eye irritation or discomfort with your optometrist. Your optometrist will ask you a series of questions about your own health, lifestyle and environment. They will then look at your eyelashes, eyelids and front surface of your eye under a microscope called a ‘slit lamp’ and will be able to advice accordingly. Yes, it may be that you need daily eye drops to ‘keep them moist’ but often, there are alternative or additional treatments (such as warm eye compresses daily) and advice that will help get at the root of the problem.

Starts at 60 previously spoke to Meagan Anderson, Orthoptist with Vision Australia, about the most common signs and symptoms. Soreness, a gritty feeling in the eyes, redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity and feeling as though there is something stuck in the eye are the most common symptoms aside from dry eyes. Dry eye isn’t typically a sign of other vision problems and isn’t a risk factor for other serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration.

You can read the full story here.

If you have a question for Starts at 60’s health experts, email it to [email protected].

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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