Tears are necessary to keep your eyes healthy. They flush any dust or particles out of the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. They also contain enzymes that eliminate microorganisms that are found in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes lack sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as perpetual feelings of dryness, burning, scratchiness or the feeling of something in your eye. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes cause eyes to water excessively in an attempt to make up for dryness.
Dry eyes are caused by several factors. The first factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also result from certain medicines including diuretics, antidepressants, blood pressure pills as well as others. Environmental conditions that are dusty, or dry heat or air circulation are also known to cause or worsen dry eyes. Additionally, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, continual sitting in front of a computer screen which can cause insufficient blinking, or usage of contact lenses can add to the chances of dry eyes.
The preferred treatment to try is typically lubricating eye drops which work by adding moisture. It’s a good idea to consult with your optometrist to know which drops to buy and how to use them. If non-prescription drops aren’t working your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that enhance tear production.
When lubricating drops aren’t enough, your eye care professional might suggest Lacrisert, which is inserted into the eyelid and periodically releases lubricants throughout the day. Another option is punctual plugs which help the eye maintain moisture by reducing the let down of tears. Some optometrists might recommend ways for you to change your environment and your diet to reduce the symptoms as well.
For most individuals dry eye syndrome does not damage your vision permanently but can be a nuisance. Although, severe dry eyes could make you more at risk of infection so it is advised to consult with your eye doctor.
Particularly during the winter, it would help to make sure to defend your eyes from dry, cold winds and irritants. Wearing sunglasses when outside, and making use of humidifiers inside when the heat is blasting may be helpful.
You don’t have to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes - visit your optometrist as soon as possible!