Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears wash any dust or particles out of the eye and maintain moisture. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate microorganisms that can be present in the eye.
In instances where the eyes do not produce enough tears, symptoms can result such as perpetual dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of something in your eye. To the surprise of many, dry eyes often cause watery eyes in an attempt to make up for inadequate tearing.
Dry eye syndrome can be a result of a number of reasons. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, and often women going through menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a side effect of several medicines. Dry or dusty air, and excessive heating or air conditioning are also known triggers. In addition, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, excessive staring at a computer or use of contact lenses can contribute to dry eyes.
The symptoms associated with dry eyes can often be alleviated by using artificial tears to put moisture back into the eye. It’s a good idea to consult with your eye doctor to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If non-prescription artificial tears aren’t working your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that actually stimulate tear production.
For more severe cases, your eye doctor might recommend Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that continually lets out moisturizing ingredients at various intervals. You might also want to try punctual plugs which help keep moisture on the eye by reducing the let down of tears. Some eye doctors will suggest you try nutritional supplements or environmental changes to alleviate discomfort.
For the majority of individuals dry eyes do not result in any real harm but can be an annoyance. However, severe dry eyes could make you more at risk of infection so it is worthwhile to consult with your optometrist.
You don’t have to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes - contact your optometrist right away!