Skip to main content

We are back to regular business hours and seeing all eye care patients. We are open M-F 9-5 & Sat 9-1.

We are offering free shipping with the purchase of a 1 year supply of contact lenses. Click here to order contact lenses.

Home »

Dry Eye

The Link Between Dry Eyes and Depression

The Link Between Dry Eyes and Depression 640×350Depression is a serious illness that impacts a person’s mood and emotional well-being. It creeps into all areas of a person’s life, and can become life-threatening if left untreated.

Not only does depression impact mental health; it can manifest as physical symptoms, too, like insomnia, chronic pain and inflammation, weight loss or gain and heart problems, among others. These physical problems can worsen depressive thoughts — sometimes leading to a vicious cycle.

Interestingly, many patients with depression also suffer from severe dry eye symptoms. The question is, how are these two conditions related?

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome, also known as dry eye disease, is a chronic condition that results from inadequate lubrication of the eyes. Ocular hydration is crucial when it comes to keeping your eyes healthy and your vision clear. Your tears are responsible for maintaining this necessary hydration, and in healthy eyes fulfill their unique mission each time you blink.

Here’s how. Your tear film is made up of three layers, consisting of oil, water and mucus. If any of these layers become compromised, inadequate tear quality or insufficient tear quantity can result — and lead to a host of uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.

The most common dry eye symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Gritty eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision

Can Depression Cause Dry Eye (or Vice-Versa)?

This is what researchers are trying to find out.

In a March 2022 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers examined the link between depression and severe dry eye symptoms. The study followed 535 dry eye patients for an entire year.

After a year, the patients who tested positive for depression had more severe dry eye symptoms than the patients who didn’t have depression. Their symptoms were measured based on the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), Brief Ocular Discomfort Index and composite dry eye disease sign score.

Additionally, severe depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms at baseline, six months, and one year.

The study concluded that depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms, which suggests that among patients with moderate to severe dry eye syndrome, those with depression may be likely to have more severe dry eye symptoms.

The researchers said further research is needed to learn exactly why people with depression have more severe dry eye symptoms than those without depression.

Could the sometimes debilitating symptoms of dry eye syndrome actually cause depression and anxiety?

A 2016 dry eye study published in Nature concluded that chronic discomfort and pain from dry eye symptoms can negatively affect the cognitive processes, sleep, mood and mental health. The researchers urged eye doctors to be aware of the higher incidence of dry eye syndrome in people with depression, whatever the underlying cause.

Can Antidepressants Cause Dry Eye Symptoms?

Yes. Antidepressants have been shown to increase dryness in the body, including the eyes. These medications work by blocking signals between nerve cells, which can result in insufficient tear production and dry eye syndrome.

If you’re taking an antidepressant, be sure to inform your eye doctor at your next eye exam.

How We Can Help

At Mascoutah Eye Care in Mascoutah, we recognize that some of our patients that come in with dry eye symptoms may be suffering from depression.

We’ll diagnose the cause of your dry eye symptoms and offer the most effective dry eye treatments to give you the relief you’re searching for.

Contact us today to schedule a dry eye assessment and take the first step towards regaining your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: Who is affected by dry eye syndrome?

  • A: While dry eye syndrome is most common in adults over 50, it can occur at any age. The following factors can increase your risk of dry eye:
    – Aging
    – Hormonal changes
    – Medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis
    – Prolonged screen time
    – Living in a dry, dusty or windy environment
    – Eye allergies
    – Blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction
    – Certain medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy
    – Vitamin A deficiency

Q: How can you reduce your risk of dry eye?

  • A: While some dry eye risk factors can’t be avoided completely, making some lifestyle changes can help. Practice these recommended tips:
    – Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
    – Wear wraparound sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes from harsh winds
    – Take frequent screen breaks and blink often while using your digital device.
    – Quit smoking
    – Use lubricating eye drops
    – Consume a healthy diet including omega 3 and drink plenty of water.
    – Have regular eye exams

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 618-566-6270

5 Ways to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

Dry Eye Air Travel Tips 640×350While traveling can be taxing on the entire body, the eyes are especially vulnerable — particularly when wearing a mask to protect from COVID. When traveling by plane, the dry air can cause your eyes to become red, parched and irritated. While you can’t control all variables during your travels, eye specialists have discovered a number of ways to reduce the chances of experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of “travelers’ dry eye.”

Here are five suggestions for preventing dry eye from affecting your vision.

Drink plenty of water. If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it will have a tougher time increasing tear production in a dry atmosphere. Humidity levels on planes are typically below 20%, which is lower than the Sahara Desert! Keep your eyes moist and comfortable by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight.

Wear your glasses. Since contact lenses remove moisture from your eye’s surface tear film, they can contribute to dry eye. Wearing your glasses can help keep your eyes moist.

Wear a sleep mask. Even when your eyelids are closed, your eyes might lose moisture, which happens frequently when you sleep. On a plane, a sleep mask can help prevent additional dryness.

Use hydrating eye drops. When you’re in a dry environment, a good hydrating eye drop can provide a brief respite.

Make sure your face mask fits snugly. When a person’s breath rises upward it can dry out their eyes. A face mask that fits securely around the bridge of the nose can prevent air from reaching the eyes.

Is dry eye making you miserable, especially when traveling? Put an end to the discomfort and struggle by contacting Mascoutah Eye Care. Our dedicated eye doctors will get to the bottom of your dry eye and provide effective, lasting treatment.

Our practice serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, Illinois and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: In some cases, yes. A range of successful treatment options can help manage dry eye for long-term relief. Your eye doctor can also provide in-office treatments for more advanced forms of dry eye disease.

Q: What type of treatments are available for dry eye?

  • A: Depending on the cause of the dry eye, treatment options include:
    – Lubricants
    – Punctal plugs
    – Topical steroids
    – Warm compresses
    – Protective eyewear
    – Intense pulse light
    – Switching to medications that don’t cause dry eye symptoms

Looking for dry eye treatment? Contact Mascoutah Eye Care today!

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 618-566-6270

5 Common Dry Eye Symptoms and How to Treat Them

5 Common Dry Eye Symptoms 640×350Are your eyes dry, itchy, and red? Is it difficult to wear contact lenses? Dry eye symptoms can be hard to live with, but fortunately, there are many treatment options.

Most cases of dry eye syndrome are caused by a blockage of the tiny eyelid glands that produce the tears’ essential oil. The oil keeps the liquid in the tears from evaporating too quickly and helps keep the front of your eyes feeling lubricated. Without this oil, your eyes will feel dry and itchy and may become red and more prone to infection.

The following are some common problems related to dry eye, and how they’re treated. syndrome.

Eyelid Inflammation

Eyelid inflammation, known as blepharitis, may contribute to dry eye syndrome because an inflammation and swelling of the edges of the eyelids can prevent the glands from releasing oil. Your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotics or steroids eye drops to treat inflamed eyelids.

Eye Redness

If your eyes are reddish or bloodshot, you should have an eye exam right away to rule out bacterial or viral conjunctivitis (pink eye). If your eye redness is a symptom of dry eye, your eye doctor will recommend the most effective treatment based on what’s causing your dry eyes. While over-the-counter artificial tears can sometimes lessen the redness by constricting blood vessels in your eye, their effect is usually temporary and doesn’t treat the underlying cause of your eye redness.

Corneal Damage

The moisture in your eyes helps prevent infections by washing away bacteria and other pathogens. Left untreated, dry eyes can lead to long-term corneal damage, known as ocular surface disease. Your eye doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, which are effective at treating inflammation short-term, but can increase pressure inside the eye if used for too long.

Discomfort Wearing Contact Lenses

If your eyes feel dry and irritated, wearing contact lenses can be uncomfortable, even impossible. Your eye doctor will discuss effective treatment options to give you the best chance of enjoying the many benefits of contact lenses.

Using over-the-counter eye drops may moisten your eyes in the short-term, but might not give you the total eye comfort you need to wear contact lenses. Your eye doctor can prescribe

eye drops or offer effective in-office dry eye treatments to treat the underlying cause of your symptoms.

There is also a range of special contact lenses that keep the eyes more hydrated than standard contacts.

Eye Dryness – Too Few Tears

If you have dry eye syndrome, you may not be producing enough tears. While eye drops or artificial tears may provide temporary relief, speak to your [eye-doctor] about cellulose eye inserts that can be placed in your lower eyelid and dissolve to supply your eyes with more tears. The insert is designed to slowly dissolve, at which time a new one can be inserted. Using inserts can be more convenient than having to apply eye drops multiple times a day.

Your eye doctor may also prescribe tear-producing medications like cholinergics, which are available in pills, gels or eye drops.

You don’t have to put up with dry eye symptoms! Dr. Marianne McDaniel at Mascoutah Eye Care in Mascoutah will determine the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms and prescribe the treatment that’s right for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Our practice serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, Illinois and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • A: – Aging, particularly if there are also hormonal changes, such as menopause
    – Medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, eye allergies and rheumatoid arthritis
    – Medications such as decongestants, antihistamine, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy
    – Inflamed eyelids, such as blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction
    – Not blinking enough, which occurs with extended digital screen use and close activities like reading
    – Exposure to dry or polluted air and heat
    – Vitamin A deficiency

Q: How Can You Minimize Dry Eye Symptoms?

  • A: – Use a humidifier in your home to add moisture to the air.
    – When outside, wear wraparound or another type of quality sunglasses to remove the effects of harsh winds and screen out UV rays.
    – Take breaks while using your digital device.
    – Take time to blink repeatedly to spread moisture over your eyes.
    – Stop smoking.
    – Use eye drops as recommended by your eye doctor.
    – Consume a healthy diet including omega 3 oils and drink plenty of water.
    – See your eye doctor regularly.


Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 618-566-6270

What Causes Bulging Eyes?

What Causes Bulging Eyes 640×350When you look at a pair of healthy eyes, you shouldn’t be able to see the whites of the eye above or below the iris. If some white is always visible between the iris and eyelid, the eyes are considered to be protruding out of their normal position.

The medical term for this condition is exophthalmos, or proptosis, and is thought to affect about 1 in 4,000 individuals worldwide.

Bulging eyes aren’t a standalone condition, but rather a symptom of another health problem. Several medical conditions can cause one’s eye or eyes to bulge, and the treatment plan depends on the underlying condition.

It’s important to note that a sudden bulging of one eye is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.

Common Causes of Bulging Eyes

The most common cause of exophthalmos is thyroid disorders, especially Grave’s disease (hyperthyroidism). Thyroid eye disease is a condition that causes the muscles, eyelids and tear glands to swell, resulting in a bulging appearance.

Symptoms of thyroid eye disease can include:

  • Painful eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Irritated eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Difficulty with eye movements
  • Pressure around or behind the eyes

Thyroid-related exophthalmos usually takes up to several months or years to manifest.

Other reasons for bulging eyes include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Hemangioma
  • Bleeding behind the eyeball due to injury
  • Infection of the eye’s tissues
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Connective tissue disease
  • [Tumors]

What Should You Do If You Notice Your Eyes Protruding?

Sudden bulging should be addressed by a medical professional without delay.

Otherwise, schedule an appointment with your physician as well as your optometrist. Be prepared to answer questions about your symptoms, general health and family history to receive an accurate assessment and diagnosis.

How We Can Help

Left untreated, exophthalmos can lead to corneal dryness, inflammation of the eye tissue and dry eye syndrome. The eyes may not be able to close completely during a blink, making them prone to insufficient lubrication and hydration.

We can treat your dry eyes and relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with bulging eyes. Treatment will be tailor-made to meet the needs of your eyes and overall health status.

To schedule a consultation, call Mascoutah Eye Care in Mascoutah today!

Our practice serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, Illinois and surrounding communities.


Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition characterized by chronic eye dryness that can be caused by genetic, environmental and other factors. Very often, it is caused by malfunctioning glands that secrete nourishing oils into the tear film. Symptoms of DES can include redness, irritation, watery eyes, blurred vision, light sensitivity, stringy eye mucus and eye pain.

Q: Can dry eye syndrome harm eye health?

  • A: Left untreated, dry eye syndrome can cause corneal ulcers, which may lead to permanent vision loss. If your eyes are giving you any trouble, speak to a dry eye eye doctor, who can diagnose the problem and help you achieve the relief you seek.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 618-566-6270

What to Know About LASIK and Dry Eye

Woman Teary Eye Winter 640×350LASIK surgery is a remarkably safe and effective procedure. That said, no surgery is without risks, even if uncommon.

One of LASIK’s side effects includes dry eye, characterized by dry, itchy, red, watery and gritty eyes. It is caused by insufficient tears or poor quality oil in the tears that prevent the eyes from being properly lubricated. Our eye doctors will guide and educate you on dry eye after LASIK so that you understand what to expect during the healing phase of the procedure.

Book an assessment at Mascoutah Eye Care to determine your likelihood of developing dry eyes after the laser procedure and address the condition so you can fully enjoy clear vision.

What’s Connection Between LASIK Surgery and Dry Eye?

During LASIK, a laser is used to cut a flap of the cornea, which lets the eye surgeon reshape the cornea with the laser.

Though we use the most advanced technologies to ensure the highest levels of safety and precision, creating corneal flaps can occasionally result in temporary damage to the corneal nerves. This causes the nerve impulses that control tear production to be interrupted. In most patients, as the cornea heals, the nerves heal as well, thus resuming regular and healthy nerve function. Flap complications are incredibly rare among those who closely follow the post-surgery instructions provided to them. However, if they do occur, our highly skilled eye doctor will address the issue and offer optimal treatment.

It is estimated that 50% of people who undergo LASIK surgery report dry eye symptoms in the following days and weeks. In the majority of cases, the dry eye symptoms subside on their own.

Some patients may have experienced dry eye symptoms before surgery. They might even have opted for LASIK due to discomfort when wearing contact lenses, not realizing that this discomfort might be caused by a pre-existing case of dry eye syndrome.

Whether the presence of dry, itchy eyes precedes LASIK surgery or is an aftereffect, it’s important to assess the risks of developing or exacerbating dry eye syndrome following the procedure.

Are You At Risk for Post-LASIK Dry Eye?

Prior to undergoing LASIK surgery, you’ll get a full eye exam. These tests may include:

  • Tear breakup time tests
  • Schirmer’s test
  • Corneal imaging
  • Tear osmolarity and inflammation
  • Meibomian gland evaluation

    A tear breakup test involves putting fluorescent dye on the surface of the eye to measure tear distribution and when the tears “break up.” For a Schirmer’s test, the doctor places a strip of paper under the eyelids to monitor tear production.

    Corneal imaging uses non-invasive devices to assess the cornea and tear film without actual contact with the eye. The tear osmolarity and inflammation tests collect tears from the inside of the bottom eyelid to test protein levels that can signal a higher level of salt content and risk of inflammation in the tears.

    What Increases the Risk of Developing Dry Eye?

    • Aging
    • Menopause
    • Medications, including antihistamines
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Hot, windy or dry conditions and climates
    • Pollution or poor quality air

    Older patients, particularly post-menopausal women, and those suffering from autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, are more likely to have dry eye symptoms following the procedure. Those taking allergy medication and living in hot, dry climates should also take precautions.

    How to Prevent Dry Eye Caused by LASIK Surgery

    Your eye doctor may recommend the following for patients who are at high risk of developing dry eye syndrome after LASIK surgery as well as those who have pre-existing symptoms:

    • Punctal plugs
    • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Lubricating eye drops
    • Prescription medication
    • In-office treatments

    Punctal plugs reduce eye moisture loss by blocking tear drainage tunnels. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements and lubricating eye drops can stimulate moisture in the eye before the procedure. Your eye doctor may prescribe eye drops or use a range of effective in-office dry eye treatments.

    Schedule your appointment to assess your risk of dry and to discuss any questions you may have regarding LASIK and dry eye syndrome.

    Our practice serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, Illinois and surrounding communities.


    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. McDaniel

    Q: What Are Some Natural Remedies for Dry Eye Syndrome?

    • A: Consuming foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as fatty fish and flaxseeds can stimulate the oils that are essential for tear quality. Warm compresses, gland expression and eye massage can often relieve clogged glands in the eyelids and provide relief. Maintaining eyelid hygiene and wearing protective sunglasses can also reduce symptoms.

    Q: What Are the Most Common Dry Eye Symptoms?

    • A: Along with dry eyes, some of the symptoms of dry eye syndrome may include redness, an itchy and burning feeling, stringy mucus, grittiness and excessive eye-watering.

    Request A Dry Eye Appointment
    Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 618-566-6270