Tears are a necessary element of eye health. Tears rinse the eye of any dust or particles and maintain moisture. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate bacteria that are sometimes present in the eye.
In instances where the eyes lack sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as persistent feelings of dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically, dry eyes often can cause watery eyes in an attempt to make up for dryness.
There are a number of factors that contribute to dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, particularly women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also be a result of several medicines such as diuretics, antidepressants, blood pressure pills among others. Environmental conditions that are particularly windy, or indoor dry heating or air conditioning can also be the cause. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, prolonged computer use or contact lens wear can cause dry eyes.
The preferred treatment to try is typically lubricating eye drops which often work to make up for the lack of natural tears. It’s recommended to check with your eye doctor to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If non-prescription drops don’t help you may need Rx drops that help your eyes to make more tears.
In more severe cases, your eye doctor might want to try Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and continually lets out moisturizing ingredients throughout the day. You might also want to try punctual plugs which help the eye maintain moisture by reducing the let down of tears. Some eye doctors will suggest you try ways for you to modify your environment and your diet to alleviate the symptoms as well.
For the majority of individuals, dry eyes will not harm your vision permanently but can be an annoyance. Although, severe dry eyes have a chance of making you more susceptible to infection so it is advised to speak to your optometrist.
Especially during the winter months, it is important to try to safeguard your eyes from dry, biting winds and particles. Using sunglasses when going outdoors, and making use of humidifiers indoors to combat dry heat are ways to reduce exposure and dryness.
If you are suffering from dry, itchy, burning eyes, it could be dry eye syndrome so contact your optometrist today!