Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. They rinse the eye of any dust or particles and maintain moisture. They also contain enzymes that eliminate bacteria that can be present in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as persistent dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of something in your eye. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes cause watery eyes if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to make up for dryness.
Quite a few causes can contribute to dry eye syndrome. 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 side effect of a number of medicines. Dry or dusty air, and dry heat or air circulation can also cause or worsen dry eyes. Additionally, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, extended staring at a computer which can cause insufficient blinking, or use of contact lenses can result in dry eyes.
The symptoms associated with dry eyes may be improved by using lubricating eye drops to make up for the lack of natural tears. It’s a good idea to speak with your eye doctor to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If over the counter drops aren’t helpful your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that actually stimulate tear production.
With more severe cases, your eye care professional might suggest Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that releases lubricants at various intervals. You may also want to try lacrimal plugs which help keep moisture on the eye by inhibiting tears from draining too rapidly. Some eye care professionals might suggest you try dietary or environmental modifications to relieve discomfort.
In the majority of cases, dry eyes do not harm your eyes permanently but can be a nuisance. However, severe dry eyes could make you more at risk of infection so it is advised to consult with your optometrist.
If you are suffering from dry, itchy, burning eyes, it could be dry eye syndrome so make an appointment with your optometrist right away!