Tears are necessary to keep your eyes healthy. Tears flush any dust or particles out of the eye and maintain moisture. They also contain enzymes that protect the eyes from microorganisms that can be found in the eye.
In instances where the eyes have insufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as perpetual dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of something in your eye. Ironically, sometimes dry eyes can cause eyes to water excessively in an attempt to compensate for dryness.
Several causes can contribute to dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, especially women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also result from certain medicines. Climate that is especially windy, or excessive heating or air conditioning can also cause or worsen dry eyes. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, extended staring at a computer or contact lens usage can result in dry eyes.
Dry eye symptoms may be alleviated with artificial tears to make up for the lack of natural tears. It’s a good idea 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 helpful you may need Rx drops that help your eyes to make more tears.
If artificial tears aren’t helpful, your eye care professional might opt for Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and continually releases lubricants at various intervals. You might also want to try lacrimal plugs which help the eye maintain moisture by slowing the let down of tears. Some optometrists will discuss a few dietary or environmental modifications to alleviate the symptoms as well.
In most cases, dry eye syndrome does not damage your eyes permanently but can be a discomfort. However, severe cases increase the risk of infection so it is worthwhile to consult with your eye doctor.
It’s not necessary to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - schedule a visit to your optometrist today!