Tears are a necessary element of eye health. They rinse away any small particles caught in the eye and maintain moisture. They also contain enzymes that eliminate bacteria that can be present in the eye.
When the eyes lack sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as perpetual feelings of dryness, stinging, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. Ironically, dry eyes often can cause watery eyes if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to compensate for inadequate tearing.
There are a number of causes of dry eyes. One factor is age since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, and often women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also result from certain medicines such as antihistamines, beta blockers, blood pressure pills or others. Climate that is dusty, or indoor dry heating or air conditioning can also be the cause. In addition, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, excessive computer use which can limit blinking, or use of contact lenses can result in dry eyes.
Dry eye symptoms can often be improved with lubricating eye drops to put moisture back into the eye. Your eye doctor can instruct you which eye drops to get and how to use them. If non-prescription options don’t help you may need Rx drops that actually help your eyes to make more tears.
For more serious cases, your eye doctor might recommend Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and periodically lets out moisturizing ingredients at various intervals. You may also want to try lacrimal plugs which help the eye maintain moisture by inhibiting tear flow. Some eye care professionals may recommend nutritional supplements or environmental adjustments to lessen discomfort.
In the majority of cases, dry eyes do not damage your vision permanently but can be an annoyance. Although, very serious dry eyes have a chance of making you more vulnerable to infection so it is worthwhile to speak to your optometrist.
Especially in the wintertime, it would help to make sure to safeguard your eyes from dry, cold winds and particles. Wearing sunglasses when outside, and using a humidifier indoors to combat dry heat may be helpful.
You don’t have to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes – contact your eye doctor as soon as possible!