Tears are necessary to keep your eyes healthy. Tears rinse away any small particles that may be in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. They also contain enzymes that protect the eyes from microorganisms that are found in the eye.
In instances where the eyes have insufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as persistent dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of something in your eye. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes cause watery eyes in an attempt to compensate for inadequate tearing.
There are a number of factors that contribute to dry eyes. The first factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women going through menopause. Reduction in tear production can also be a side effect of several medications. Environmental conditions that are particularly dry, or dry heat or air circulation can also cause or worsen dry eyes. In addition, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, extended use of the computer or usage of contact lenses can result in dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye symptoms can often be improved with artificial tears to reduce dryness. It’s recommended to check with your eye doctor to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If non-prescription drops aren’t working you may need prescription drops that actually stimulate tear production.
When lubricating drops aren’t enough, your optometrist might suggest Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and periodically lets out moisturizing ingredients at various intervals. Another option might be lacrimal plugs which help the eye remain lubricated by restricting tear flow. Some eye doctors might suggest you try ways for you to modify your environment and your diet to relieve discomfort.
In most cases, dry eyes will not affect your vision permanently but can be an annoyance. Although, severe dry eyes could make you more susceptible to infection so it is a good idea to consult with your eye doctor.
Particularly during the winter months, it is important to make every effort to protect your eyes from dryness, biting winds and particles. Using sunglasses when going outdoors, 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 - make an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible!