Tears are an essential part of eye health. They flush out any small particles that may be in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. They also contain enzymes that guard the eyes against bacteria that are occasionally found in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes lack sufficient tears, symptoms can result such as perpetual feelings of dryness, burning, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes can cause watery eyes as the eyes try to compensate for inadequate tearing.
Dry eye syndrome can be a result of a several factors. The first factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, particularly women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a side effect of some medicines such as antihistamines, beta blockers, blood pressure pills as well as others. Environmental conditions that are especially windy, or dry heat or air circulation can also cause or worsen dry eyes. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, continual sitting in front of a computer screen which can reduce blinking, or contact lens wear can result in dry eye syndrome.
The preferred treatment to try is usually artificial tears which work by putting moisture back into the eye. It’s advisable to consult with your optometrist to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If over the counter drops aren’t helpful your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that enhance tear production.
If eye drops don’t relieve your discomfort, your eye care professional might want to try Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that periodically releases lubricating ingredients during the day. You may also want to try lacrimal plugs which help the eye remain lubricated by reducing the drainage of tears. Some optometrists will discuss a few ways for you to adapt your environment and your diet to lessen discomfort.
In most cases, dry eyes will not result in any permanent harm but can be an annoyance. However, severe cases could make you more vulnerable to infection so it is advised to speak to your optometrist.
Especially in the wintertime, it is important to try to safeguard your eyes from dryness, biting winds and particles. Using sunglasses when outside, and using humidifiers indoors to combat dry heat may be helpful.
You don’t have to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes - schedule a visit to your optometrist today!