Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears rinse the eye of any dust or particles and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. They also contain enzymes that eliminate bacteria that are found in the eye.
In instances where the eyes do not produce adequate amounts of tears, the results are often discomfort such as constant dryness, stinging, itching or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes can cause eyes to water excessively in an attempt to combat dryness.
Dry eye syndrome can be a result of a several factors. Dry eyes are often age related as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also be a result of many medications including antihistamines, beta blockers, birth control pills as well as others. Dry or dusty air, and indoor dry heating or air conditioning are also known triggers. In addition, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, extended use of the computer which can limit blinking or contact lens wear can cause dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye symptoms can often be alleviated by using lubricating eye drops to reduce dryness. 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 options aren’t working you may need Rx drops that help your body to produce more tears.
If eye drops don’t relieve your discomfort, your optometrist might want to try Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that periodically lets out moisturizing ingredients at various intervals. You might also want to try lacrimal plugs which help keep the eye moist by controlling the drainage of tears. Some eye care professionals will discuss a few ways for you to adapt your environment and your diet to reduce the symptoms as well.
In the majority of cases, dry eye syndrome does not damage your vision permanently but can be a discomfort. However, severe dry eyes increase the risk of infection so it is advised to speak to your optometrist.
Particularly in the winter, it would help to make every effort to defend your eyes from dryness, biting winds and particles. Wearing sunglasses when outside, and using humidifiers inside when the heat is blasting are steps that could help.
If you notice symptoms of dry eye contact your optometrist right away!