Eye pain is an inevitable part of the aging process. Your eyes will grow old along with you and there’s no stopping that.
The good news is that some of the common causes of eye pain can be corrected with do-it-yourself remedies, or with a visit to your eye doctor. Whether you want to relieve eye strain or say goodbye to blurry vision, we’ve put together the common causes of eye pain among older people, from the unalarming to the urgent, as well as how you can correct them today.
#1 Dry Eyes
As you get older, your glands won’t be able to produce enough tears to lubricate your eyeballs. As a result, you’ll feel symptoms of dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, an uncomfortable condition that causes your eyes to feel as if they’re on fire. Dry eyes can also lead to watery eyes (the dryness will “trigger” the overproduction of tears), which in turn can be the cause of blurry vision.
Consider treatment options such as eye drops to provide temporary relief from eye pain. Your doctor may also recommend the use of a humidifier at home. However, if you’re still suffering from dry eyes, it would be a good idea to go to your doctor to determine if you need eye surgery.
#2 Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the number one cause of blindness among adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 4.2 million American adults have DR. This condition is typically found in people with diabetes, and it can occur when the retina is damaged and grows where it shouldn’t be. Some of the symptoms of DR include eye pain, partial loss of vision, and the appearance of “floaters”.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for DR, but adults with diabetes can prevent permanent vision loss via laser treatment. However, the best way to prevent DR is to prevent diabetes. To do that, look into biohacking wellness, a do-it-yourself strategy that aims to boost your general well-being through lifestyle changes. You can also lower the risk of diabetes by working out regularly.
#3 Eyelid Problems
It’s possible for the cause of eye pain to not be the eye itself, but the skin that surrounds it. Certain skin conditions such as ocular rosacea can cause dry eyes and eye pain. The cause of this chronic skin condition is unknown, but it is believed that an overactive immune system may be the culprit. When you have ocular rosacea, the glands that line your eyelids will get blocked, and this will stop them from making tears they need to keep your eyes well-lubricated. As a result, your eyes will dry up and you will suffer from redness, swollen eyelids, and eye infections.
There is no cure for this condition, but you can practice proper eye care such as regularly washing your eyes with warm water. If you’re prone to flare-ups, stay away from spicy food that can trigger the symptoms of ocular rosacea.
Glaucoma is generally painless — that’s why it’s known as the “sneak thief of sight”. However, there is a type of glaucoma that can cause the worst pain you’ve ever experienced: acute angle-closure glaucoma or AACG. This can occur when there is too much pressure on the eyes.
This glaucoma is considered a medical emergency. In the event that you suddenly experience sharp eye pain accompanied by blurred vision, you have to see your doctor immediately. If left untreated, AACG can be the cause of blindness — in fact, over 3.3 million Americans over the age of 40 have suffered from vision loss due to this condition.
That’s why it is critical to get your eyes checked regularly. In this way, your doctor can detect the early signs of AACG and lower the risk of a glaucoma attack. In some cases, your doctor may recommend laser treatment to reduce the pressure inside your eyes.
#5 Eye Strain
Eye strain is a common cause of eye pain among adults. When your eyes are “overworked”, they will likely feel tired, and in some cases, they can even sting. Although dryness is one of the culprits of eye strain, there’s a good chance that your eyes are hurting due to the excessive use of devices such as your computer, smartphone, and more.
Remember that as you age, your body will lose the ability to generate enough tears to lubricate your eyes. So don’t be surprised if you can no longer stare at the screen for too long!
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to eye strain — all you’ve got to do is blink a lot. Follow the 20-20-20 rule where you have to look away from the screen every 20 minutes, and for 20 seconds, focus on something 20 feet away.
As an alternative, you can use over-the-counter eye drops for temporary eye strain relief, but be sure they’re preservative-free. Certain preservatives such as benzalkonium chloride (BAK) and sodium perborate (SP) can irritate your eyes even more.
As you can see (pun intended), you can often find relief from the common causes of eye pain on your own. However, although certain conditions can go away on their own, others are actually signs of something more serious. What you thought were harmless floaters may be symptoms of a condition that can cause permanent blindness.
To keep seeing clearly for years, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor today. In this way, they can pinpoint any signs of serious eye conditions or prescribe you over-the-counter medication to treat your eye pain at home.