Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. They wash any dust or particles out of the eye and maintain moisture. They also contain enzymes that protect the eyes against bacteria that are present in the eye on occasion.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce sufficient tears, symptoms can be present such as persistent feelings of dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically, dry eyes often can cause watery eyes as the eyes try to defend against inadequate tearing.
A number of causes can result in dry eye syndrome. The first factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women going through menopause. Reduction in tear production can also result from certain medications. Dry or dusty air, and excessive heating or air conditioning are also known to cause or worsen dry eyes. Additionally, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, prolonged staring at a computer which can cause insufficient blinking, or usage of contact lenses can add to the chances of dry eyes.
The first treatment option is typically artificial tears which work by putting moisture back into the eye. Your eye doctor can tell you which eye drops to purchase and how to use them. If over the counter options don’t help you may need Rx drops that enhance tear production.
If eye drops don’t help, your eye doctor might opt for Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and continually releases lubricants throughout the day. You might also want to try punctual plugs which help the eye remain lubricated by reducing the let down of tears. Some eye care professionals will recommend nutritional supplements or environmental changes to relieve discomfort.
In most cases, dry eyes do not harm your vision permanently but can be an annoyance. However, very serious dry eyes have a chance of making you more vulnerable to infection so it is a good idea to speak to your optometrist.
If you are suffering from some of the symptoms listed above visit your eye doctor as soon as possible!