Tears are an essential element of eye health. Tears flush out any small particles that may be in the eye and maintain moisture. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate microorganisms that are present in the eye on occasion.
In instances where the eyes have insufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as persistent feelings of dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically, dry eyes occasionally cause watery eyes if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to defend against inadequate tearing.
There are several factors that contribute to dry eyes. The first factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, especially women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also result from certain medicines. Dry or dusty air, and dry heat or air circulation can also cause or worsen dry eyes. In addition, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, prolonged use of the computer or use of contact lenses can add to the chances of dry eye syndrome.
The first treatment option is usually artificial tears which often work to make up for the lack of natural tears. It’s recommended 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 working your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that actually enhance tear production.
If artificial tears don’t relieve your discomfort, your eye doctor might opt for Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that releases moisturizing ingredients at various intervals. Another option is punctual plugs which help keep moisture on the eye by restricting tears from draining too quickly. Some eye doctors may discuss a few dietary or environmental changes to alleviate the symptoms as well.
In the majority of cases, dry eye syndrome does not affect your vision permanently but can be a discomfort. Nevertheless, very serious cases increase the risk of infection so it is a good idea to speak to your eye doctor.
You don’t have to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - visit your eye doctor today!