Tears are necessary to keep your eyes healthy. They rinse away any small particles caught in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate microorganisms that are occasionally present in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as constant feelings of dryness, stinging, itching or a foreign body sensation. Ironically, occasionally dry eyes can cause watery eyes if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to make up for dryness.
Several factors can result in dry eye syndrome. The first factor is age since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, especially women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also result from certain medications including antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control pills among others. Environmental conditions that are dry, or dry heat or air circulation can also be the cause. Additionally, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, excessive staring at a computer or usage of contact lenses can add to the chances of dry eye syndrome.
The first treatment option is typically lubricating eye drops which often work to make up for the lack of natural tears. Your eye doctor can tell you which eye drops to buy and how to use them. If non-prescription options don’t help your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that help your eyes to make more tears.
In more serious cases, your optometrist might recommend Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that continually lets out lubricants at various intervals. You might also want to try punctual plugs which help the eye maintain moisture by controlling the drainage of tears. Some eye doctors may recommend nutritional supplements or environmental changes to reduce discomfort.
In the majority of cases, dry eye syndrome will not result in any permanent damage but can be a nuisance. Nevertheless, very serious dry eyes could make you more at risk of infection so it is a good idea to consult with your optometrist.
It’s not necessary to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes - make an appointment with your eye doctor today!