Tears are an essential element of eye health. They wash out any small particles that may be in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Certain enzymes found in tears guard the eyes from microorganisms that can be found in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce enough tears, symptoms can be present such as perpetual dryness, stinging, scratchiness or the feeling of something in your eye. To the surprise of many, occasionally dry eyes can cause watery eyes in an attempt to combat dryness.
There are several factors that contribute to dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome is also a result of several medicines. Environmental conditions that are particularly dusty, or indoor dry heating or air conditioning are also known causes. Additionally, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, continual sitting in front of a computer screen which can limit blinking, or contact lens usage can result in dry eyes.
The symptoms associated with dry eye syndrome may be relieved with the use of artificial tears to put moisture back into the eye. Your optometrist can instruct you which eye drops to buy and how to use them. If over the counter options don’t help your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that actually stimulate your eyes to make more tears.
With more severe cases, your eye care professional might recommend Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that continually releases lubricants during the day. Another option could be punctual plugs which help keep moisture on the eye by reducing the drainage of tears. Some optometrists may recommend ways for you to adapt your environment or your diet to reduce the symptoms as well.
In the majority of cases, dry eyes will not cause any permanent harm but can be a nuisance. However, very serious dry eyes increase the risk of infection so it is worthwhile to consult with your eye doctor.
You don’t have to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - make an appointment with your optometrist today!