The landscape of Drumheller is a unique one. If you look out into the hills in mid-summer, you can see bentonite, desert-like conditions and maybe even a tumbleweed rolling by. This analogy also works for our eyes, which 90 per cent of Albertans experience dryness.
Local optometrist Dr Rebecca Milkovich recently participated in a study to better access the issue of dry eye.
"The Alberta Associations of Optometrist just put out a study saying that dry eyes in Albertan's are extremely prevalent. They are actually affecting 90 per cent of Albertans where the large majority of people who are experiencing dry eye symptoms may not even be aware that they are related or caused by dry eyes."
Symptoms of dry eyes include the feeling of stinging and grittiness in the eye. Milkovich explained that there are many different reasons why dryness is so common in Alberta.
"We are in Alberta, it is dry overall. A lot of us work sitting inside and looking at computers causing problems with our normal blinking rate, our exposure to computers to the UV light, different environmental irritants can all play a role. The ageing process can also definitely affects dry eyes," continued Milkovich.
According to the study, when left untreated dry eye can cause tissue damage and scarring of the sensitive corneal tissues of your eyes, leading to impaired vision.
"So symptoms could be as ambiguous as feeling like there is something in the eyes or feeling like there is a gitty or burning sensation. It can lead to fluctuating vision throughout the day. Anybody from a child up to a senior is covered by Alberta Health Care to come in to see a doctor of Optometry for a dry eye exam or for a medically necessary appointment," concluded Milkovich.