Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. They rinse the eye of any dust or particles and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate microorganisms that are occasionally present in the eye.
When the eyes do not produce enough tears, symptoms can present themselves such as perpetual dryness, stinging, itching or a foreign body sensation. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes cause eyes to water excessively if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to defend against inadequate tearing.
Dry eyes can be caused by 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 many medications such as diuretics, antidepressants, blood pressure pills or others. Environmental conditions that are dry, or dry heat or air circulation are also known to cause or worsen dry eyes. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, prolonged sitting in front of a computer screen which can limit blinking, or use of contact lenses can contribute to dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye symptoms can often be improved by use of lubricating eye drops to add moisture. Your eye doctor can show you which eye drops to purchase and how to use them. If over the counter drops don’t help your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that stimulate tear production.
If eye drops don’t help, your optometrist might opt for Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that lets out lubricants during the day. Another option could be punctual plugs which help keep the eye moist by restricting tear flow. Some eye care professionals may suggest you try ways for you to change your environment or your diet to reduce discomfort.
In the majority of cases, dry eyes do not cause any sustained harm but can be a nuisance. However, severe cases could make you more susceptible to infection so it is advised to consult with your optometrist.
If you are feeling dry, itchy, burning eyes, it could be dry eye syndrome so schedule a visit to your eye doctor today!