Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears wash out 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 bacteria that can be present in the eye.
In instances where the eyes do not produce enough tears, symptoms can present themselves such as constant feelings of dryness, burning, scratchiness or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. To the surprise of many, dry eyes occasionally cause eyes to water excessively as the eyes try to combat inadequate tearing.
There are a number of causes of dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, especially women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also result from certain medicines. Dry or dusty air, and dry heat or air circulation are also known causes. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, continual use of the computer which can reduce blinking, or contact lens usage can add to the chances of dry eyes.
The first treatment option is typically lubricating eye drops which often work to make up for the lack of natural tears. Your optometrist can tell you which eye drops to purchase and how to use them. If non-prescription drops don’t help you may need prescription drops that enhance tear production.
For more severe cases, your eye care professional might want to try Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that releases lubricants during the day. Another option could be punctual plugs which help keep moisture on the eye by controlling the drainage of tears. Some eye doctors might suggest you try ways for you to adapt your environment or your diet to lessen the symptoms as well.
For most individuals, dry eye syndrome will not cause any permanent damage but can be a discomfort. However, severe cases increase the risk of infection so it is a good idea to consult with your optometrist.
It’s not necessary to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - schedule a visit to your optometrist today!