Tears are necessary for healthy eyes. They wash out any small particles that may be in the eye and maintain moisture. They also contain enzymes that eliminate bacteria that can be found in the eye.
When the eyes have insufficient tears, symptoms can result such as perpetual feelings of dryness, burning, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. To the surprise of many, dry eyes occasionally cause eyes to water excessively if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to defend against dryness.
Dry eye syndrome can be caused by a several reasons. 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 a number of medications such as antihistamines, beta blockers, birth control pills or others. Climate that is dusty, or dry heat or air circulation can also cause or worsen dry eyes. In addition, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in tear production, prolonged computer use which can reduce blinking, or contact lens usage can cause dry eyes.
Dry eye symptoms can often be improved by use of artificial tears to put moisture back into the eye. It’s advisable to check with your eye doctor to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If over the counter artificial tears aren’t working you may need Rx drops that help your body to make more tears.
With more severe cases, your eye care professional might opt for Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and lets out lubricants during the day. You may also want to try lacrimal plugs which help the eye stay moist by controlling the drainage of tears. Some optometrists may recommend ways for you to modify your environment and your diet to reduce the symptoms as well.
For the majority of individuals, dry eyes do not cause any real damage but can be a discomfort. Although, severe dry eyes have a chance of making you more susceptible to infection so it is worthwhile to consult with your eye doctor.
You don’t have to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes - schedule a visit to your eye doctor as soon as possible!