Tears are an essential part of eye health. They flush out any small particles that may be in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. They also contain enzymes that eliminate bacteria that are present in the eye on occasion.
In instances where the eyes have insufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as perpetual feelings of dryness, burning, itching or a foreign body sensation. Ironically, dry eyes often cause eyes to water excessively if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to combat inadequate tearing.
Dry eye syndrome can be a result of a several reasons. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, and often women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a result of a number of medicines. Climate that is especially dry, or dry heat or air circulation are also known causes. Additionally, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, prolonged sitting in front of a computer screen which can limit blinking, or contact lens usage can cause dry eyes.
Dry eye symptoms can often be improved by using lubricating eye drops to put moisture back into the eye. It’s a good idea to check with your optometrist to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If non-prescription artificial tears aren’t helpful you may need prescription drops that actually help your body to make more tears.
If those aren’t helpful, your eye care professional might want to try Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and continually lets out lubricants throughout the day. Another option might be lacrimal plugs which help the eye remain lubricated by slowing the drainage of tears. Some eye doctors might suggest you try ways for you to adapt your environment and your diet to lessen the symptoms as well.
For the majority of individuals, dry eyes do not result in any sustained damage but can be an annoyance. Nevertheless, severe cases could make you more susceptible to infection so it is a good idea to consult with your optometrist.
Particularly in the wintertime, it is important to make sure to defend your eyes from dry, cold winds and irritants. Using sunglasses when going outdoors, and using a humidifier inside to combat dry heat may be helpful.
It’s not necessary to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - schedule a visit to your optometrist today!