Tears are necessary to keep your eyes healthy. Tears flush 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 against bacteria that can be present in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce adequate amounts of tears, symptoms can present themselves such as constant dryness, burning, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. Ironically, dry eyes occasionally cause watery eyes if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to combat inadequate tearing.
Quite a few factors can contribute to dry eyes. The first factor is age since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, especially women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome is also a result of many medicines such as antihistamines, beta blockers, birth control pills as well as others. Environmental conditions that are especially windy, or dry heat or air circulation are also known triggers. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in tear production, continual use of the computer which can reduce blinking, or contact lens usage can add to the chances of dry eye syndrome.
The preferred treatment to try is typically artificial tears which work by putting moisture back into the eye. Your optometrist can instruct you which eye drops to buy and how to use them. If non-prescription drops aren’t helpful your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that actually help your eyes to make more tears.
With more serious cases, your optometrist might opt for Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that periodically lets out lubricants throughout the day. You may also want to try punctual plugs which help the eye remain lubricated by keeping tear flow at bay. Some eye care professionals might recommend nutritional supplements or environmental changes to reduce the symptoms as well.
For the majority of individuals, dry eye syndrome will not cause any permanent damage but can be a nuisance. However, severe dry eyes have a chance of making you more vulnerable to infection so it is worthwhile to speak to your optometrist.
It’s not necessary to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes - visit your eye doctor today!