Tears are an essential element of eye health. Tears flush any dust or particles out of the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Certain enzymes found in tears guard the eyes from microorganisms that are occasionally present in the eye.
When the eyes lack sufficient tears, symptoms can be present such as constant dryness, burning, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes can cause watery eyes if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to make up for dryness.
Several factors can result in dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, particularly women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a side effect of several medications. Environmental conditions that are dry, or dry heat or air circulation can also be factors. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in tear production, extended use of the computer which can reduce blinking, or usage of contact lenses can cause dry eyes. The first treatment option is typically artificial tears which often work to reduce dryness. It’s recommended to speak with your optometrist to know which eye drops to purchase and how to use them. If non-prescription options aren’t helpful your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that help your eyes to make more tears.
In more serious cases, your eye care professional might opt for Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that periodically releases lubricants at various intervals. Another option is punctual plugs which help the eye maintain moisture by reducing the let down of tears. Some optometrists might discuss a few ways for you to change your environment and your diet to relieve discomfort.
For the majority of individuals, dry eye syndrome does not harm your vision permanently but can be a nuisance. However, severe dry eyes could make you more susceptible to infection so it is advised to speak to your eye doctor.
Particularly in the wintertime, you should to make sure to safeguard your eyes from arid air, biting winds and particles. Using sunglasses when outside, and making use of a humidifier inside when the heat is blasting are steps that could help.
You don’t have to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes - visit your eye doctor today!