Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears rinse away any small particles that may be in the eye and maintain moisture. They also contain enzymes that eliminate bacteria that are present in the eye on occasion.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce enough tears, the results are often discomfort such as constant dryness, burning, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. To the surprise of many, dry eyes occasionally cause eyes to water excessively if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to defend against dryness.
There are several causes of dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, and often women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can be a side effect of some medicines such as diuretics, antidepressants, blood pressure pills among others. Dry or dusty air, and dry heat or air circulation are also known to be factors. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, prolonged computer use which can cause insufficient blinking, or contact lens wear can contribute to dry eyes.
The first treatment to try is usually lubricating eye drops which often work to reduce dryness. Your optometrist can tell you which eye drops to buy and how to use them. If non-prescription artificial tears don’t help your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that actually enhance tear production.
If eye drops don’t relieve your discomfort, your eye care professional might recommend Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that continually lets out lubricants at various intervals. You may also want to try lacrimal plugs which help keep the eye moist by inhibiting tears from draining too quickly. Some eye care professionals will discuss a few ways for you to modify your environment and your diet to relieve discomfort.
In most cases, dry eyes do not affect your vision permanently but can be a nuisance. Although, very serious cases have a chance of making you more susceptible to infection so it is a good idea to speak to your optometrist.
Particularly during the wintertime, you should to try to protect your eyes from arid air, cold winds and irritants. Using sunglasses when going outdoors, and using humidifiers inside to combat dry heat are steps that could help.
If you notice symptoms of dry eye contact your eye doctor as soon as possible!